ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton delivered an optimistic State of the State address Thursday night at the Capitol.
“What we have been doing is working,” he said. “Minnesota is working.”
The Democratic is calling on Minnesota lawmakers to support major spending programs now that the long recession is over.
Dayton was bullish Thursday night, unapologetic and aggressive about his far-reaching legislative programs and critical of Republicans, who he said refuse to acknowledge how well Minnesota’s doing.
The address came with Minnesota’s economy booming — near record low unemployment and record high budget surplus.
“I am frequently asked, ‘What are my top priorities for this session?'” he said. “My simple, straight answer is: ‘Everything.'”
Dayton is doubling down on a controversial plans for free, statewide pre-k programs for 4-year-olds, a 10-year transportation fix fueled with a gas tax hike, and an almost $1 billion public works bill.
“We will be judged by what we do, or don’t do,” he said. “Minnesota’s future is now in our hands.”
For much of the 32 minute address, Democrats cheered as Republicans sat silent.
The governor aimed a significant part of his speech at Republican critics, who he said refuse to acknowledge how well Minnesota’s doing.
“I want to take this opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of the people of Minnesota,” Dayton said. “You are remarkable citizens.”
Republicans are proposing $2 billion dollars in tax relief.
They singled out Dayton’s plan to raise the gas tax as out of touch.
“I was hoping he would back away from his gas tax proposal,” Rep. Kurt Daudt, the Republican House Speaker said. “It is so unpopular with Minnesotans. We were really hoping to see him back away from that.”