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Republicans see different Minnesota to the governor

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ST. PAUL — Republicans see Minnesota in a different state than Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton presented Wednesday in his third State of the State speech.

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The GOP, in House and Senate minorities, complained about his proposal to increase state spending $2.7 billion.

“Minnesota families are going to pay more, regardless of what he says,” Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, said about Dayton’s tax proposals.

Many Republicans invited business owners to sit with them at the speech to illustrate their concern that Democrats are taking up issues such as gun control instead of creating more jobs.

“The governor made it clear he wants to talk about same-sex marriage and about gun control,” Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said. “I’m afraid those issues will rise to the top and take away the focus from the budget.”

“We should be focused on growing our economy, not our government and we shouldn’t be asking taxpayers to pay more,” said Senate Republican Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie.

House GOP Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the state is moving to prosperity, but Dayton’s budget plan would change course and go the wrong way.

“The governor laid out his budget proposal that we think will hurt middle-class and low-income families and hinder job growth,” Daudt said. “Prior to listening to the governor, we held a listening session where we heard from job creators from across Minnesota. They confirmed what we believe to be true: the state of the state is improving but it’s a fragile recovery.”

Weber said while the governor has welcomed different ideas, Republicans have not seen as much willingness in committees, such as when they propose amendments to bills.

 “If bipartisanship means we have to travel all the way to the other side, that isn’t going to happen,” Weber said, though he said he thinks the two parties can find common ground.

“The governor mentioned the good things about Minnesota … and what he believes in, and I think those are things everyone wants,” Hamilton said. “The devil is in the details.”

Since Dayton released his budget proposal two weeks ago, Democrats have stopped short of giving it their full endorsement.

“I don’t agree with every detail of the governor’s budget, but I think the general direction is a good one,” Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, said, echoing others in his party.

For the first time in more than two decades, a Democratic governor spoke to a Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, said he thinks the governor’s speech was consistent with what he laid out in his budget and what he has said publically will be his priorities.

“I think there’s a lot to rally behind,” Schmit said.

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