Minnesota Governor Dayton Surrenders on Tax Issue to End State's Shutdown



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“Relieved, but not celebrating” is one of the headlines in Friday’s StarTribune. Governor Dayton and the state legislature finally reached a compromise that would balance the budget and reopen the state by delaying payments to schools and issuing bonds against future tobacco settlement monies.

In his statement to lawmakers Governor Dayton said, “despite my serious reservations about your plan, I have concluded that continuing the state government shutdown would be even more destructive for too many Minnesotans. Therefore, I am willing to agree to something I do not agree with -- your proposal -- in order to spare our citizens and our state from further damage.”  In his statement the Governor listed three conditions:

1) The removal of social policy issues from further consideration this year (like requiring voters to bring identification to the polls or ending taxpayer funding for abortions).

2) Dropping a provision which would have required a 15 percent across the board reduction in the number of state employees.

3) Support for a $500 million bonding bill to “put people back to work throughout Minnesota.”

The details of the budget are still being worked out, but the state will likely be up and running in just a few days.

Obviously this compromise is a huge blow to tax fairness advocates. Dayton had previously campaigned on and proposed raising taxes in a progressive way to avoid making radical cuts. Delaying payments and issuing bonds is not a fiscally responsible way to solve Minnesota’s budget problems over the long term.

Dayton closed his statement this way: “I urge the members of both of your caucuses to consider carefully the advisability of supporting alternative sources of revenue, which would provide better, long-term financial stability for Minnesota than the two sources in your offer.” It’s a real shame that his words are falling on deaf ears; by all accounts, substantial, beneficial tax reform is going to be shelved for the time being.

Photo via Governor Dayton Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

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