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Dayton says he's open to ideas, calls budget plan a 'starting point'

Minnesota Gov.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton addresses The Forum's editorial board
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton addresses The Forum's editorial board during a meeting Wednesday afternoon at The Forum. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that the budget he unveiled this week is not an end-all solution to the state's financial woes and if others have better ideas, he wants to hear them.

"My budget is not the end point, it's the starting point," Dayton told The Forum's editorial board during a visit to the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Dayton's plan has been criticized by Republican lawmakers, particularly for its call to raise income taxes on Minnesota's wealthiest residents.

For individuals, the threshold for paying more taxes would be a taxable income of about $100,000.

For married couples, the threshold would be a taxable income of about $150,000.


Dayton said a couple with that income level would pay $100 more in taxes under his budget.

"The top 10 percent (of income earners) pay a lower percentage of their income in state and federal taxes than everyone else," Dayton said.

"It (the proposed budget) is an increase on the top 10 percent, but it reflects the fact their taxes have been cut in the previous 16 years," he said.

Dayton said there is no good way to resolve a budget deficit of $6.2 billion.

What makes cutting difficult, he said, is that the budget is as much about people as it is about dollars.

One program eyed for cuts, but ultimately spared in Dayton's budget, is one that helps people with mental health challenges achieve independent living.

Dayton said he couldn't see cutting funds because it would set families back to square one.

"Those are some of the real-world trade-offs in these decisions."


The governor's budget would not cut local government aid, and Dayton stressed Wednesday that he is committed to continuing such aid as a means of keeping the lid on local property taxes.

Over the past eight years, he said, state government cut LGA by 50 percent.

He said local governments made up the difference by cutting services and raising property taxes from $4 billion statewide to $7 billion.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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