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Different takes on Dayton speech

February 10, 2011
By Per Peterson

An area House representative praised Gov. Mark Dayton's optimistic, can-do attitude in Wednesday's State of the State address, while a state senator took that optimism as overambitiousness and questioned where the money will come from to pay for everything outlined in the speech.

"I did sense an optimistic tone," House 20A Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said. "I was a bit surprised the way he led his speech talking about Sept. 11 when as a senator he stood together with his colleagues and said our government will not shut down in the wake of these horrendous events.

"I appreciated the tone,"?he added. "It was very Minnesotan in looking at how well we can do things."

In his address, Dayton looked to the Republican-controlled Legislature to work to ensure there would be no government shutdown in Minnesota this year. He called shutting down state government - which is what took place six years ago - "absolutely unthinkable."

"He sent a very strong message of let's work together; we're going to compromise," Falk said. "We're not going to agree on everything, but we're going to put the betterment of Minnesota ahead of any ideology."

State Sen. Gary Dahms didn't see it that way. Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said he was disappointed that Dayton didn't show more of a desire to work together with Republicans.

Dahms said while everyone would agree with the governor on the need to improve certain areas, he wondered how those improvements would be paid for outside of raising taxes on the wealthy.

"He wants to do a lot of things; well, you have to have money to do these things," Dahms said. "There's no way he can come up with nearly enough money for all the things he wants to do. I wish we had the money for education and transportation."

Dahms said the state needs to live within its means as it faces a $6.2 billion budget shortfall, and that the idea of taxing the wealthiest Minnesotans would ultimately have a negative impact.

He said in most cases, the wealthy are the ones who provide the jobs and higher taxes could scare them out of the state.

"The people who have wealth are very fluent, very flexible, and they can move anytime they want,"?he said. "It's kind of scary the number of people aged 65 who move from Minnesota; they go south because of better weather, but a massive amount of people age 65 made their wealth here and leave because they can afford their taxes. Then they come back at age 77 because we have such good programs for the elderly. That's a good thing, but if we keep chasing the wealthy out how are we going to pay for all of this?"

Dahms did say Dayton delivered his speech well and was pleased to see he planned to sign a bill that would offer relief on permitting. Dayton said he wants to expand on a behind-the-scenes efficiency effort to help state and local governments improve service and cut costs.

"It's good that will get signed and move forward," Dahms said.

Falk said Dayton "sent a message" in his address, which he called a precursor to Dayton's budget, which he will unveil Tuesday.

"This is a great challenge," Falk said. "He inherited a huge shortfall, more people are looking for work, average wages across the state have gone down, and we need to bring Minnesota back to greatness.

"Education, we're in the middle of the road and we've always been a leader. Transportation, we're always in the top 10 and now we're in the middle of the pack,"?Falk added. "He made a commitment that he will work for Minnesota to improve these things and get it done soon. While it's a great challenge, it's a great opportunity, too, to put us back into a leadership spot."



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