Dayton talks MNsure, mining and light rail before heading to Mayo

Gov. Mark Dayton speaks to reporters. (MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire)

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said today that an ailing left hip has affected his mobility in recent months but not his job performance.

Dayton is scheduled to undergo a medical procedure at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Wednesday on the hip muscle he injured in June. He said Mayo doctors recommended the treatment, known as a “platelet rich plasma injection,” rather than surgery. Dayton told reporters that the outcome won’t affect his bid for re-election in 2014.

“Brain cells are located in the head, not the hip,” Dayton said. “It’s been painful for the last four months, but that’s part of life. I’m pretty tough. Hopefully this will correct it. If not, I’ll limp along with it.”

Dayton plans to work from the governor’s residence for the next two weeks while he recovers. He will  have no public events during that period. So before stepping out of the public eye, Dayton held a general media availability that covered several topics.

MNsure

Dayton said the rollout of Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange was not perfect, But given the complexity and scope of the project, Dayton said he believes it performed “phenomenally well.”  He said as of Monday, more than 18,000 people had created MNsure accounts, but it’s too soon to say whether the program is a success.

“It’s going to be a year before we really have a sense of the scope of public participation,” he said.

Minimum wage increase

Dayton reaffirmed his support for a “living wage,” which would allow an individual to support a family of four at slightly above the poverty level.

“We say we want work to pay. We want to incentivize people to work. But if you’re working full time for $6.15 an hour, you’re mired in poverty. And you’re not going to have the reasons to get the training, get the experience, even keep the job.”

Mining

Members of the state Executive Council will hold a special meeting on Friday (the governor will participate via telephone) to consider the approval of 31 non-ferrous metallic mineral leases. Dayton said he expects the leases to be approved, but predicted that litigation from opponents will get in the way of the projects moving forward.

“Every one of these matters is going to be contested by somebody. That’s just the way it’s going to be.”

Online voter registration

Dayton said he supports the intent of the new system that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie launched last month, but he believes it should have received authorization from the Legislature.

“It’s a good idea, but one that should get legislative support.”

Southwest Light Rail Transit project

Dayton held a private, morning meeting with state and local elected officials from the affected communities. He said he stressed that a three month delay, which he announced last week, is better than the delays that would come later if a plan were rammed through without broad support.

“I think they came away with an understanding of what the strategy is. They’re not happy with it, and they’re not happy with the fact that other possible routes are going to be considered, because they like the one that won’t affect them, which is understandable.”