PoliGraph: Koch claim on Dayton’s shutdown statement is right

As the state faces a government shutdown, Senate Republican Majority Leader Amy Koch has been pointing out that Dayton said he would never let it come to this.

“Gov. Dayton promised voters he would not shut down government,” Koch said in a press release June 10, the day 36,000 state workers were sent lay off notices.

In fact, Dayton did say he would reject a government shutdown during the 2010 campaign.

The Evidence

Dayton and the Republican-controlled legislature are at an impasse over $1.8 billion in spending for the next biennium. Dayton wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans to expand the budget, but Republicans are not on board.

Both sides have offered concessions since Dayton vetoed the Republican’s $34 billion budget in May. Dayton said he would trim his tax plan and support more spending cuts. Republicans are willing to shift $202 million in tax breaks to other programs. If they can’t reach a deal by July 1, state government will shut down. This week Dayton filed a court petition laying out his plans for which agencies would remain open during a shutdown.

During a debate in late October 2010, KSTP-TV reporter Tom Hauser asked Dayton what he would do in a situation very similar to the one the state is facing now. Dayton, at that point in time, was proposing raising taxes on many more people to raise $4 billion in new revenue.

“If you can’t get the tax increases that you want, and you can’t get the Legislature to go along with the vision that you have, how far would you be willing to go,” Hauser asked. “Would you allow government to shut down in order to try to get things the way you see them?”

“No, I would not shut government down,” answered Dayton. “Government imparts important services to the people of Minnesota and those services need to continue – public safety, the education system and the like.”

A bit later, Dayton seemed to back track, saying that he “would not compromise on the principle that we need to make taxes more progressive in Minnesota.”

Dayton’s spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci says the situation is very different now.

“The legislature failed to pass a budget that [Dayton] could sign, and he is now working every day to find compromise, so they can pass a budget he will sign into law,” she wrote in an email.

The Verdict

Koch says that Dayton promised no government shutdown. While she fails to point out that he made this comment during the campaign — long before the current stalemate — he was responding to a question that described a situation very similar to the one the state is in now.

As a result, Koch’s first PoliGraph test is accurate.


Sen. Amy Koch, Republican Legislative Leaders Comment on Layoff Notices Sent to 36,000 State Workers, June 10, 2011

C-SPAN, Minnesota gubernatorial debate, Oct. 24, 2010

Minnesota Public Radio News, Dayton revises budget offer, by Tom Scheck, May 16, 2011

Interview, Michael Brodkorb, spokesman, Sen. Amy Koch, June 16, 2011

Interview, Katharine Tinucci, spokeswoman, Gov. Mark Dayton, Jun

  • Jamie

    // “No, I would not shut government down,” //

    Dayton ISN’T shutting government down. He has gone way more than halfway toward a compromise on the budget, while Republicans have not budged. So I would say that the Republican-controlled state Legislature are the ones who will be shutting government down.

  • Ralph Crammedin

    Dayton’s first (perhaps only) major mistake as Governor – underestimating the amount of damage Republicans are happy to inflict on Minnesota for political advantage.

    Koch, Zellers and the GOP legislature have no shame. Calling out the Governor, while refusing to deal, is just more evidence of the childish, self-serving nature of the entire GOP.

    btw, shifting funds around without changing the number was merely a quick shell game to catch gullible reporters. Calling it a “concession” makes you a party to GOP spin, Catherine.

  • Bill Schult

    Governor Dayton wants to have his cake and ours too!

    With all his “TRUST MONEY” safely in South Dakota, he can feel good about not paying taxes on his “INHERITED INCOME.” He sure as hell isn’t smart enough to have earned it himself.

    This state is already spending $34 Billion every two years to support 53,000 state workers.

    I dare say that if half of them went away, we would not miss what they are supposed to be doing.

    For those of you who don’t what is actually taking place, state workers receive all of their pay for the time the state is shut down-IN ESSENCE, THEY WILL GETTING AN EXTENDED PAID VACATION, ONCE AGAIN AT THE TAXPAYERS EXPENSE.

    WAKE UP GOVERNOR DAYTON, we are not in the USSR, Greece, France or any other Socialist leaning country. This is AMERICA, the land of the free enterprise system. It is time for you to get into the modern world, not the world of FDR or LBJ. T

  • Solabola

    Gov. Dayton has already gone more than half way? Dayton started out at $38 billion and hasn’t moved. He can’t tell you where he’d spend all that money but he sure thinks he’s going to get it out of the “rich”. The GOP started at $30 billion and moved to $34 billion after the budget forecast came out showing more revenue to cover more spending.

    See that’s how a budget works, you have X amount of dollars to spend and you only spend what you have. Liberals will never understand.

  • Mark Lokowich

    To paraphrase Dorothy upon meeting the scarecrow; Gov. Dayton, ” What would do with 1.8billion dollars if you had it..? ” Let’s fund the state with the money we DO have in the checkbook, and then we can all hear the straw man tell us about OZ

  • C Ricks

    Was he lying then or is he lying now? Please Governor Dayton, please tell us why raising taxes or causing massive pain to the citizens who elected you by cutting off services is the ONLY option.

    $34 Billion is an increase over the last biennium. Why can’t the state hold that line on spending?

    Why are you planning to feed bison at the expense of disabled folks who will lose services in a shutdown?

    Seems as though those most in need will suffer because you won’t sign the balanced budget that you have had available at least 27 days.

  • Matt

    The governor and the Republicans were $4 billion apart and then Dayton came down $2.2 billion and now they’re $1.8 billion apart. He’s moved, they haven’t.

    Why do we need to raise taxes on the richest 2%? Because it’s either that or, as the Republicans would have it, raise tuition costs at all the state’s colleges and universities, and cut aid to local governments who have seen their tax base eroded by a housing collapse.

    If you believe that there’s billions of dollars of waste in the MN budget, find it. “Government Workers” is not an answer – its actually necessary to know what those workers do to decide if they are a waste of money. I personally know government workers who keep sex offenders in prison and treatment facilities and I can say that we will all miss their services. I’ve also met state workers who keep our highways and parks safe and clean and I know we already have too few of those.

  • Matt

    Ms. Richert,

    I have for some time been impressed by the PoliGraph; however, I believe that you are mis-analysing the situation here. The power to prevent a shutdown is not entirely in the Governor’s hands, but also those of the (Republican) Legislature.

    The budges put forth by Gov. Dayton and the Legislature were, initially, $4bn apart, were they not? If the Governor has moved by $2.2bn and the Legislature has not substantially moved at all, can the Governor be said to have “let” the shutdown happen?

    My verdict is no: the Governor is at least trying to negotiate fairly (as evidenced by the movement from his initial bargaining position toward the middle), whilst the Legislature is not. Therefore, the Governor is not responsible for the shutdown – the Legislature are, and to imply that he is letting it happen is to indulge in a certain spin on the facts. I implore you to revise this piece, noting the role the Legislature’s intransigence has played in the present standoff.