Mondale and Carlson hope to settle budget battle

From Tim Nelson and Tom Scheck:

Former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Gov. Arne Carlson say they’ve asked six business and government leaders to come up with a proposed solution to the budget impasse that’s shut down much of state government.

The two introduced the idea at a press conference in Minneapolis City Hall this morning.

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The panel includes two former legislators, former executives from Medtronic and Wells Fargo and two former state finance commissioners. Mondale said they’d asked them to come up with a solution to offer elected officials.

“What the governor and I have done here is to assemble a group of the state’s most respected, seasoned specialists, on the state budgets, state policy making, state leadership,” Mondale said.

The Dayton administration has offered current budget commissioner Jim Schowalter as a liaison to the group. Carlson says he hopes the group will work fast.

“Our fear is that large sums of money, large interests will come into Minnesota,” Carlson said. “And cause a freezing of attitude and a digging in, a retrenchment if you will, making it very, very difficult for compromise to become a reality.”

Carlson and Mondale said that they would play no formal role in the commission or an eventual budget solution. They said the group would meet behind closed doors and they asked for a proposed solution by the end of this week.

GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean says GOP legisaltors are willing to look at the suggestions

“if they come up with a good idea we’re all ears,” Dean said. But he said many Republicans will be reluctant to adopt tax increases to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit.

“Our members are made up of small business people who ran and won in 2010 in very different times when Governor Carlson was governor and Vice President Mondale were in office,” Dean said. “We’re in unprecedented economic times and maybe ten or twenty or thirty years you can raise taxes and grow government a little bit faster to get to the resolution at the end of the day.”

Dean and several other Republicans have pointed out that Carlson has endorsed Democrats in recent years. Carlson insists he’s a Republican.

You can listen to this morning’s news conference here:

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