ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton hit the road Tuesday to tell a friendly St. Cloud audience his side of the budget impasse with Republican lawmakers, a standoff that has led to a state government shutdown that is now in its 12th day.
Dayton appeared at a roundtable forum at Apollo High School that focused on special education funding. More than 100 people attended the event, and many in the audience gave Dayton a standing ovation as he entered the room.
The governor said he’s traveling around the state to “communicate to Minnesotans what’s at stake for them” and “how important it is that all of our voices are heard so that we have a balanced, reasonable compromise solution, hopefully as quickly as possible.”
Republicans have remained united against Dayton’s proposal to raise income taxes on the highest earners. Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud, was among several Republican lawmakers who attended the event. Banaian told Minnesota Public Radio News he won’t support new taxes to plug the budget gap.
“I do not believe we need new revenues,” Banaian said.
The Star Tribune reports the Republicans were chastised by several audience members, some of whom wore T-shirts supporting Dayton and public employee unions.
“Where’s your conscience? It’s about us who sent you there,” said Anthony Akubue, a professor of environmental and technological studies at St. Cloud State University.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said she called Dayton on Tuesday morning to suggest she and House Speaker Kurt Zellers participate in the St. Cloud event as well as others the Democratic governor has scheduled this week. But Dayton’s press secretary Katharine Tinucci said Dayton told Koch he’d prefer the GOP leaders spend their time working on a counter-proposal to budget offers he has made.
In St. Paul, the top Democrat in the Minnesota House on Tuesday called for six House Republicans to cross party lines to support Dayton’s proposal for new income taxes and end the government shutdown.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen held a news conference outside the state Capitol with six empty folding chairs, saying he and members of his caucus have reached out to Republican lawmakers. He declined to identify any of the Republicans.
Zellers said Tuesday that no members of his Republican caucus would cross party lines to vote for a tax increase.
He and Koch held a news conference to again urge Dayton to call a special session allowing them to pass a “lights-on” bill that would restart government while negotiations continue, and pieces of the budget where there is agreement.
There are no new budget talks scheduled.
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