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Mark Dayton was sworn in as Minnesota's 40th governor during a midday ceremony in St. Paul on Monday, becoming the first Democrat to hold the state's top elected office in two decades. The former U.S. Senator takes office with the state facing a $6.2 billion budget deficit and Republicans taking control of the state House and Senate.

Dayton sworn in as Minnesota’s new governor

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea swears in Gov. Mark Dayton

Mark Dayton was sworn in as Minnesota’s 40th governor during a midday ceremony in St. Paul on Monday, becoming the first Democrat to hold the state’s top elected office in two decades. The former U.S. senator takes office with the state facing a $6.2 billion budget deficit and Republicans taking control of the state House and Senate.

“The stakes now are high,” Dayton told the crowd during a 14-minute speech at the Landmark Center. “This coming decade will determine whether we suffer the historical declines of previous superpowers, or write a new chapter for future historians. If anyone can do it, we can. And we must.”

Dayton promised to work with the incoming Republican majorities to grow jobs and balance the state’s books. He used the phrase “working together” 10 times during the speech.

But Dayton also reiterated his intent to make the state’s tax code more progressive. During the campaign he promised to raise income taxes on the state’s wealthiest 10 percent of residents. “My proposed budget solution will be reasonable, balanced  — and painful — because I see no easy alternative,” he said.

Dayton vowed to provide adequate funding for K-12 schools, saying education should be the state’s “first and foremost” priority. But he also called on every business in Minnesota to adopt a school and assist with educating the state’s kids. In addition, he asked every adult in the state to devote at least one day per month to volunteer service. Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon began the day by serving breakfast to students at Wellstone Elementary School.

The new governor was introduced by former Vice President Walter Mondale. The state’s other constitutional officers — State Auditor Rebecca Otto, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, all DFLers — were sworn in prior to Dayton. Each are serving their second terms.

Departing Gov. Tim Pawlenty was on hand for the official transfer of power. Incoming House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and incoming Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, were also present at the ceremony. Other prominent politicos in attendance: U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Tim Walz.

“So let us dedicate ourselves to rebuilding a successful state, one that again is the envy of the nation, a leader of the world,” Dayton said in closing. “Let it be written that we were Minnesotans who led the way to something better than before, who created something greater than ourselves, who achieved together what none of us could have achieved on our own.”

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