ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Democratic Gov.-elect Mark Dayton said Wednesday that state lawmakers should expect to see him deeply involved in shaping legislation in hopes of keeping Minnesota’s new divided government from sliding into the same gridlock as the last one.
Dayton, who takes office in five days, stressed his style of collaboration in interviews with Capitol reporters, including one with The Associated Press. His mettle undoubtedly will be tested as Republicans take control of the Legislature for the first time in four decades.
“I intend to be very much engaged,” Dayton said. “I’m not going to sit on some pretend throne somewhere and say ‘Well, you guys work it out and I’ll let you know if I’m going to veto it or not.”‘
Over the last eight years, Minnesota has had a Republican in the governor’s chair and Democrats running at least one legislative chamber. That led to frequent clashes and a flood of vetoes from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, whom Democrats often accused of being disengaged as bills took shape.
Dayton, who had been left in limbo for weeks when the election results forced an automatic recount between him and Republican Tom Emmer, said both sides will need to give some to make state government work.
“Compromise doesn’t mean I meet them all the way to their end, and it doesn’t mean they meet me all the way to mine,” he said.
Dayton said he wants members of his cabinet to be fixtures at the Capitol while the Legislature is in session, making the administration’s positions clear and heading off problems early.
But Dayton’s administration is still taking shape. He has named only four of about two dozen agency heads.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said she was “somewhat surprised and a bit concerned” that Dayton’s cabinet was lacking some key components as his inauguration approaches.
“The biggest pieces of the budget, the commissioners are still missing,” Koch said.
Dayton said he plans to name his lead budget adviser at the Minnesota Management and Budget Department on Thursday as part of a late spurt of picks. He indicated that he was likely to temporarily retain a top official from Pawlenty’s administration at the Revenue Department. Dayton said he has asked deputy commissioner Dan Salomone, who previously led the department, to stay on until a replacement is found.
Dayton said there will probably be a half-dozen more slots filled by Friday to join the four department heads announced so far. He said uncertainty over the election result slowed his appointment process.
“The clock began ticking three weeks ago, not two months ago,” Dayton said. “If we had been able to start on Nov. 3 we would be a lot further along.”
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