ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton told hundreds of state business leaders on Wednesday he’s not backing down from a plan to raise taxes on high income Minnesotans.

And that was just the beginning.

The governor unloaded on his Chamber of Commerce hosts and accused the business group of not telling the truth about the state of the state.

That turned the already cool reception even colder.

“I expect that the chamber will oppose it,” Dayton said. “All I ask is that you oppose it with the facts.”

Gov. Dayton told a stunned luncheon audience that Minnesota is among the best places for business in the country, contrary to the Chamber’s message.

He said government spending is right in the middle, and that the state’s tax rank is dropping.

Dayton said he never heard the same criticism when Republican Tim Pawlenty was governor for eight years, and he asked his staff to investigate.

“And we could not find a single instance of the chamber calling for spending reforms during those eight years,” Dayton said. “Evidently, in your view, spending reform is needed only when a Democrat is governor.”

Chamber President David Olson rejected the governor’s claims.

Not only has the Chamber provided the governor with spending reform ideas, he said, but the governor’s budget doesn’t include them.

“We didn’t see it as balanced,” Olson said. “When you raise taxes $4 billion, and you cut spending $167 million, one could argue that’s not balanced.”

Olson said Chamber will not support any new taxes, or tax hikes in the governor’s budget. The group wants more spending cuts, instead.

Last week, the governor dropped a controversial sales tax on business services after an outcry from the business community.

Dayton also strongly hinted that one more tax will go away — the “snowbird” tax on Minnesotans who live in states like Arizona and Florida for 6 months of the year so that they won’t have to pay Minnesota income taxes.

Pat Kessler

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