Gov. Mark Dayton is embarking on a statewide journey Tuesday morning to explain his side of the Minnesota budget debate that has resulted in a state government shutdown.
In a whirlwind tour that begins in St. Cloud, the governor will also visit Rochester, Winona, Albert Lea and Austin over the next two days. Dayton has preliminary plans to fly to Moorhead later in the week.
“I’ll be traveling throughout Minnesota to talk with people about why we’re going through (the shutdown),” Dayton told reporters assembled on the steps of the State Capitol. “The people of Minnesota overwhelmingly want us to compromise. I am willing to consider other possibilities; other reasonable alternatives.”
Among the possible compromises Dayton would consider is lowering and broadening the sales tax, increasing the tax on cigarettes and alcohol and ending certain tax breaks. The governor’s preferred method of closing the $1.4 billion gap between proposed budgets remains an increased income tax on Minnesota’s 7,700 wealthiest residents.
The governor also released a budget message “to all Minnesotans” on YouTube.
In a news conference after Dayton’s announcement, GOP leaders renewed their call for a lights-on bill.
Sen. Amy Koch (R-Buffalo) also said a GOP counteroffer is “in the works.” She did not expand on the details of the budget offer or say when it would be presented to the governor.
Apart from the temporary-funding bill, the GOP has yet to make a counteroffer since the beginning of the government shutdown July 1.
Despite whispers of a counteroffer, it appears GOP leaders and Dayton are still miles away from a deal.
“Any talk of increased taxes is generally off the table,” Assistant Majority Leader Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester) told reporters outside the Capitol. “We compromised in the room (June 30). We felt we compromised enough.”