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Dayton speech raises some red flags for local senators

WILLMAR -- Local senators from both sides of the political aisle said they liked the priorities Gov. Mark Dayton set out Wednesday in his State of the State speech, but both questioned where the money would come from to pay for investments in edu...

Some questions remain
Sens. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, left, and Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls.

WILLMAR -- Local senators from both sides of the political aisle said they liked the priorities Gov. Mark Dayton set out Wednesday in his State of the State speech, but both questioned where the money would come from to pay for investments in education, jobs and transportation.

"I don't know where in the world in a time of deficit we're going to come up with money to do all that," said Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls.

Kubly be-lieves the investments are necessary but said with the "current division of power" -- the Democratic governor calling for a tax increase on the wealthy and the Republican-controlled Senate and House opposing any tax increase -- finding the funding will be difficult without a compromise.

Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, said that he liked the tone of Dayton's speech because it was "hopeful and positive" about wanting to work with the Legislature to reach a budget solution.

But Gimse said the speech "left me wondering" about the tax increases Dayton said will be part of his budget plan that will be revealed on Tuesday.

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"There are a lot of unknowns there," Gimse said, adding that getting any kind of a tax increase approved this year by the House and Senate will be next to impossible.

"We think we can manage with what we have," said Gimse, who is hoping that rumors about a better-than-expected revenue forecast for February will turn out to be true.

Kuby said economists have been saying for the past decade that a combination of new revenue and spending cuts is needed to balance the budget without making things "worse."

Kubly said Dayton was "trying to be up front and be as honest as he could" about the state's budget. "He tries to tell it like he sees it. You can't ask for much more than that, whether you agree with him or not."

If there isn't a compromise, there's concern there could be a shutdown of state government.

"That isn't a direction any of us want to head," Gimse said. "We don't want that to be even part of the discussion. We want to get our work done."

Kubly speculated that if some kind of tax increase is not approved, Dayton would call legislators back for a special session.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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