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If successful in gubernatorial bid, Dayton vows he will tax rich to increase education funding

MOORHEAD -- Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton brought his gubernatorial campaign to the Red River Valley Friday morning, declaring he wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans in order to improve funding for public education.

Dayton, who's vying for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nomination, touted his 35 years of public service experience in state and federal government as the reason why he's the best candidate to lead Minnesota.

"I know how to win, but more importantly, I know how to govern," Dayton said before a dozen supporters who gathered at Moorhead's Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center early Friday.

If elected, the St. Paul native said his first priority will be to raise taxes on the wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans in order to increase state funding for K-12 public education and lower college tuition costs.

"You can read my lips: Tax the rich," Dayton said, putting a reverse spin on the famous quote from former Republican President George H. W. Bush.

Dayton's family founded the department store chain of the same name, which later became Target stores.

The wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans that would be affected by the pledged tax hike would include individuals earning $143,000 or more annually and married couples who together earn $172,000 or more annually, Dayton said.

State revenue analysts estimate the additional tax dollars coming in would amount to about $3.8 billion within the current two years, Dayton said.

He criticized Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty for squandering former budget surpluses and "allowing the wealthiest Minnesotans to avoid paying their fair share of taxes."

"It's time for a governor to lead us in a new direction, to the greatness that Minnesotans deserve," Dayton said. "I will be that governor."

Kristen Daum is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.