Gov. Mark Dayton plans to drive across the state this week to show Minnesotans his “continued efforts to find compromise” to break the budget impasse and stop what has become the longest government shutdown in state history.
Dayton announced the plans at a news conference Monday, along with new offers to help solve the $5 billion budget deficit. In a letter to Republican legislative leadership, the governor suggested eliminating some tax expenditures, broadening the sales tax base and lowering the rate, and increasing taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and other tobacco products to help close the gap.
While Dayton said he doesn’t necessarily support these ideas, they are areas he hopes the two parties can “agree to.” “I’ve suggested everything I can think of to get this settled,” he said, adding that his travels are to “remind Minnesotan’s of what’s at stake.”
Republicans did not criticize Dayton for his plans to travel around the state, but repeated their desire for the governor to call the Legislature back to pass a lights on bill as they work out the details of a global budget agreement. They also emphasized that their major concerns about the budget lie in “reigning in government spending” and reforming how those dollars are used. The governor, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said, is only focused on who will be taxed and how much the state will spend.
The leaders also requested that Lieutenant Gov. Yvonne Prettner-Solon get invovled in the discussions, as she has recent experience with the Legislature as a former senator. “She comes at a different angle,” than the governor, Koch said.
Dayton plans to start his tour in St. Cloud on Tuesday, and will make stops in Rochester, Winona, Albert Lea, Moorhead and other cities throughout the rest of the week. The governor also released a Youtube video to accompany the announcement. See the video here.