ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton urged GOP lawmakers in his State of the State address Wednesday to cooperate on shared goals like creating jobs and investing more in education, and reminded them that Minnesota voters will render a November verdict on how well they do.

With one eye on the Capitol landscape and the other on the next election, the speech illustrated Dayton’s key challenge: He needs Republican support to pass his agenda at the Capitol, but he’ll be looking to topple those same GOP majorities in the fall elections.

Dayton’s evening speech came before a joint session of the House and Senate in the House chamber. His plea for cooperation came three weeks into a legislative session most notable so far for continuing outbreaks of partisan anger that recalled last year’s bitter budget fight and partial government shutdown.

Dayton acknowledged that basic differences between him and the GOP have left state government largely unproductive over the last year. The Democratic governor wants to improve state finances by raising income taxes on the wealthy, while Republicans would rather cut spending.

“Next November, Minnesotans will decide which of our approaches they prefer. Until then, let us resolve that we will conduct this session’s financial affairs responsibly,” Dayton said during the 26-minute speech, which was regularly interrupted by applause — sometimes from all lawmakers, sometimes only from fellow Democrats.

Republicans hold a 37-30 majority in the Senate and a 72-62 edge in the House, and all 201 seats are on the November ballot.

While blunt in assessing the session’s political stakes, Dayton opened the speech with a reminder that all politicians share a responsibility to their children and grandchildren. He urged Republicans to team up with him on bills that would produce more jobs. He said despite signs of an economic recovery, there are still 168,000 Minnesotans who can’t find jobs.

“They must be our No. 1 priority,” Dayton said. “So, I say to legislators, let’s take your best ideas and my best ideas and turn them into jobs.”

After the speech, numerous Republican lawmakers said they share Dayton’s desire for cooperation but don’t know if it’s possible in the current environment.

“You saw everybody stand when he said we need to work together,” said freshman Sen. John Howe, a Red Wing Republican. But, Howe added, “There’s obviously a difference of opinion of how we get there.”

Dayton’s election-year warnings did not go unnoticed.

“I didn’t personally like the political aspect, the rhetoric about elections and things like that,” said Sen. Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester. “I don’t think that belongs in a speech like that.”

Both Senjem and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said they encourage an election that contrasts Dayton’s and the GOP’s approaches to budgeting.

In seeking a bipartisan emphasis on jobs, Dayton reminded lawmakers of his three main job-related proposals.

He wants swift action on his proposal to borrow $775 million for public works projects around the state, which he urged lawmakers to pass before the end of February. He said even if only half of an estimated 21,700 jobs are created by the bonding package, it would make a huge difference for the jobless.

“That’s still more than 10,000 Minnesotans, now unemployed, who could be working all over the state,” Dayton said.

He again urged lawmakers to finish and vote on a plan for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, saying it would mean another several thousand additional jobs. And he repeated his third proposal, a $3,000-per-hire tax credit for state businesses that hire unemployed Minnesota residents, veterans and recent college graduates.

Republicans have taken issue with all three proposals.

To improve job creation, they prefer cutting property taxes on Minnesota business and reducing government rules and regulations they say constrain businesses. In a nod to that point, Dayton mentioned previous cooperation between his administration and Republicans — most notably when they agreed last year to streamline the permitting that businesses must go through with agencies like the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources.

“We can make it still faster, and we will,” Dayton said, going on to list efforts by other agencies to make government more user-friendly for business.

Dayton cited another 2011 bipartisan success, a bill that laid out a new licensing path for teachers with untraditional backgrounds. He hit hard on the importance of strong K-12 and higher education systems to the state’s economic future, but did not roll out any new proposals tied to those values.

Dayton spoke vaguely of GOP education proposals, warning that some “appear designed less to help students next September, than to help themselves next November.”

In looking back to 2011, Dayton unfavorably highlighted one agreement between himself and Republicans — the decision to eliminate a state budget deficit with $750 million in delayed state aid payments to schools. Another $750 million in borrowing was done against future proceeds from a state settlement with tobacco companies.

The $1.5 billion total borrowing agreement casts a bad light on the state’s current $876 million budget surplus. “No more borrowing,” Dayton said.

Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said he was encouraged by that comment — but said it seemed inconsistent with Dayton’s hard sell on the bonding bill, which is a form of state borrowing.

As Dayton outlined differences between himself and Republicans, he returned multiple times to connect the thought to voters passing judgment in November. He is not on the ballot, but all of the legislators are. And their uncertainty is heightened by redistricting, with new maps that will redraw their boundaries to be released next week.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (23)
  1. Brett says:

    ooooh, OOOooooh, we are SO SCARED, dayton. What if your hopes backfire, and you lose even BIGGER this November? Keep reaking those polls, they are you best friend….

    1. Mike says:

      The elected Republicans in this state have eliminated more jobs then they have created. They are interested in one thing, divisive and disruptive politics. They can do nothing to fix the economy they destroyed with unfettered free markets and crony capitalism and now are resorting to their last hand of action, social issues.
      Republicans are bankrupt with ideas to lead.

      1. Ned says:

        Is that why unemployment is down?

      2. GN says:

        Spoken like a true, hard core communist Mike.

        1. jimmy says:

          Spoken like a true, hard core Nazi GN.

          1. Kevin says:

            Why do sackless liberals always revert to the word “Nazi”? I think anyone who uses the word Nazi or Hilter because he is to ignorant to make a comment….should just be shot…….cleanse the gene pool….

  2. angry Minnesotan says:

    Dear Governor Dayton, The people spoke last November, this is the hand you were dealt, deal with it. You are negotiating from a position of weakness, not of power. Learn how to lead and come to a consensus with the republicans. By throwing barbs like you are, you are only showing your lack of professionalism and leadership. LEAD and find a good middle ground and quit stomping your feet in a puddle like a spoiled brat child that is not getting his candy. Your political party had 32 years to run this state and the tax payers and voters decided to try another direction, live with it and deal with it like an adult.

    1. Mike says:

      Governor Dayton is the only adult in the room and has proved that over and over. The Republican legislators and Tea Party coalition are the force that has no compromise to negotiate.
      I don’t think Minnesotans will make the same mistake, voting against their principals and supporting Republicans who have done nothing about creating jobs.

      1. hunnybear18 says:

        That explains the childish tantrum he threw when they didn’t confirm his nominee, even though he’d been warned that it probably was not going to go through because of issues people had with the person he was nominating.

  3. james2 says:

    Dear Governor Dayton, you are not perfect, but who is? You are the first Governor that I actually wanted to listen to. I’m not kidding.

    I truly believe that you get “compromise”. It’s the American way. Not everything comes at once. It never has.

    I never cared much for Pawlenty, but I respected him. Still do. Ventura too. Carlson etc… I love MN.

  4. Clem H says:

    One time I’d like to hear how the Dems have a jobs plan that didn’t involve more spending. As for Dayton, he was elected because there was a 3rd party that took GOP votes so he should probably tone it done a bit.

    1. politicianssux says:

      Clem H., I repsectfully disagree with you. Governor Dayton won because like every election that I have voted in, both parties put up far right and fatr left partisans and the people of Minnesota had to plug their nose and vote for the lessor evil. Until people get more involved at a grass roots level and start to force their party to put up more of a moderate, then we will have this party
      flip flopping back and forth for generations to come.

  5. Fkafka says:

    There’s so little news and detail in this mute report – just liberal poilitcs – hardly worth the time to comment, but I do comment on it’s lack of reporting.

  6. Pete Nordstrom says:

    I think you are doing a great job as Govenor of this great state. You are doing as good as you can with the congress trying to make you fail. Keep up the good work. It was great to meet you while you were campaning in Morris. Thank you for being our

  7. RIII says:

    When state government is largely unproductive we all save money! Best thing we could do is get rid of 1/10 of the state emploiees. When they were laid off over the budget hissy fit Dayton thru we saved money. Lets make it permantent!

  8. Iron Ranger says:

    I have never heard of a jobs bill come out of the repub legislaure. Our Gov is coming up with a plan. Wait a minute, the repubs have come up with a jobs bill, they want to outlaw gay marriage, and force voter id. I guess I am wrong. I am going to eat my words when Santorum is president and he deals with the number one issue in this country which is contreception. I am so glad the repubs have a candidate that is looking out after that hot button issue such as contraception and not worry about the mundane such as job creation. My only other wish is that he picks newt as his running mate. That would make everyone in this country sleep easy. Thank you repubs for rescuing us liberals from our dreamland. NEWT NEWT NEWT.

    1. Ned says:

      thats because jobs are created by the public sector you troll. Its governments job to create a business friendly environment to attract business to minnesota. A good example is Amy voting to tax the medical device industry hard which will hurt minnesota based companys like Medtronic, etc. The repubs are against this because they know it will cost jobs.

  9. Nate says:

    Spending $750,000,000.00 on public works projects will only create temporary jobs that are limited to just a few different lines of work (mostly public union). That’s not fair to the majority of the work force and when in debt you’re not supposed to spend boat loads of money on temporary reprieves because after it’s all said and done you’ll just be broke again.

    If we give tax breaks to business owners for hiring the unemployed, the vets, and college grads what makes people think that business owners aren’t just going to turn around and lay off their regular workers and replace them with the unemployed, the vets, and college grads just to get the tax break? That’ll replace jobs, not create them.

    And you wonder why the GOP won’t compromise with these senseless proposals.

    As for the stadium, just build it I don’t care anymore I’m sick of hearing about it

  10. soldout says:

    There are jobs for every Minnesotan, but those employers are just stalling. Get rid of those stallers. Why isn’t anything being done about home foreclosures and evictions. Banks buying homes from banks (babies having babies).

  11. waste says:

    If we need jobs in this state, why did the governement import 4000 somalians?

    The government creates the problem, then wants more money to fix it.

  12. Ordinary Guy says:

    We are getting our butts kicked by foreign competition. To address that and get our jobs back, we have to agree to do some of the things that totalitarians can do easily. That is, to find a convergence of education, business, government that accomplishes things that really make an economy go. We need our public investments to serve the businesses which can serve our real needs of energy, transportation, consumer goods and service. Those that pay revenues back, because imports don’t.

    Even the tax burden on our products and plan public purchases that find this convergence, and we’re back on top and they can go back to arguing about social issues as usual.

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