On Midday Dayton talks taxes, stadium and cell phone ban

Gov. Dayton said on MPR’s Midday program today that his biggest regrets of his first year in office are the 20 day state government shutdown in July and his failure to increase income taxes on Minnesota’s top earners. Dayton said he would continue to push for his tax increase proposal in 2013 regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats control the Legislature.

He also said he’s interested in getting a bonding bill and Vikings stadium plan passed in the upcoming legislative session. He said he would do everything he possibly can to ensure the Vikings stadium issue is resolved next year.

“This one has been festering for so long,” Dayton said.

The governor defended his push for a new Vikings stadium saying it would provide jobs for construction workers. He said that he’s also considering spending some state money to redevelop the Arden Hills ammunition plant even if a proposed Vikings stadium is built elsewhere.

Vikings owners and Ramsey County are pushing to build the stadium in Arden Hills and say cleaning up the site is one of the benefits of the project. Dayton hasn’t taken a position on whether the new stadium should be built in Arden Hills or Minneapolis but said it’s worth cleaning up the site so it’s available for other uses.

“It’s the largest unused plot of land in our entire metropolitan area,” Dayton said. “What’s standing in the way is an estimated $30 million of cleaning it up, and that’s a good thing to do for the residents in the area as well as future development.”

Dayton also said he was pleased to see the state is showing a surplus in the current budget cycle. He said the law requires the $871 million surplus to be put into the state’s reserves but suggested that he may look at trying to pay back some of the K-12 school funding shift if the February forecast continues to show a surplus of that size or more.

Dayton and lawmakers enacted a budget in July that relied on delayed payments to schools and borrowing against future tobacco payments to erase a $5 billion deficit.

Dayton also said he’d have to study a recommendation by a federal agency that says states should ban drivers from using cell phones except in emergencies. The National Transportation Safety Board made the recommendation today to improve safety. It would apply to both hands-free and hand-held phones and would also ban texting.

Dayton says the measure would improve public safety but said he’d have to determine whether the public would accept the ban and if such a law could be enforced.

“One of my philosophies about government is that we need to set rules or laws that we can enforce,” Dayton said. “One of my frustrations with the HOV lanes, for example, is that people ignore it with impunity.”

Minnesota law already bans drivers from texting. It also bans permit holders and those who have had their license for less than a year from talking on a cell phone while driving.

Dayton also said he intends to run for re-election, a claim he’s made to several news organizations over the past few months. He said he also considers President Obama “a slight favorite” to win re-election next year but said an Obama victory depends on whether the economy continues to improve.

Dayton said he’s going to work to get more businesses involved in K-12 schools, a pledge he made in his inaugural address in January. When a caller asked if his push was successful, Dayton responded that his office “dropped the ball” on the initiative. He said he’ll continue to make the case for the initiative in the coming months but said he also learned several businesses already work with schools with little fanfare.

You can listen to Dayton’s appearance here:

and here:

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