Governor pays tribute to veterans and talks about his revised budget

by Howard Lestrud
ECM Political Editor

Gov. Mark Dayton today (March 12) paid tribute to state military veterans during a Veterans Day on the Hill program at the State Capitol and then walked about 50 steps to visit with Capitol reporters about his supplemental budget.

Dayton will reveal his supplemental budget at 10 a.m. tomorrow (March 13) at a press conference in the Governor’s Reception Room.

Gov. Mark Dayton fields reporters' questions about his supplemental budget which will be formally introduced at a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 13 in the Governor's Reception Room at the State Capitol. (Photo by Howard Lestrud)

Gov. Mark Dayton fields reporters’ questions about his supplemental budget, which will be formally introduced at a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 13 in the Governor’s Reception Room at the State Capitol. (Photo by Howard Lestrud)

He was pressed to reveal some of his planned changes in the budget after he announced last Friday that he was dropping his business tax plan. His sales tax proposal would have resulted in $2 billion in new taxes on businesses in Minnesota.

Dayton was asked if all of his sales tax proposals would be gone. He said the proposed sales taxes, including a proposed sales tax on clothing, will not be part off his new budget. “It’s not fair to my consumers,” he said. Dayton also said it will be difficult to implement his property tax rebate plan without the revenue from the sales tax.

He still plans to support investments in education and in other areas. The supplemental budget “will not have the broad-based reform I would have liked,” Dayton said.

A National Guard Color Guard presents the colors to open the program held in the State Capitol Rotunda Tuesday morning. More than 200 veterans attended the gathering. Gov. Mark Dayton was the keynote speaker. (Photo by Howard Lestrud, ECM Publishers)

A National Guard Color Guard presents the colors to open the program held in the State Capitol Rotunda Tuesday morning. More than 200 veterans attended the gathering. Gov. Mark Dayton was the keynote speaker. (Photo by Howard Lestrud, ECM Publishers)

Still arguing that his budget proposal would have reduced taxes for middle income families, he said his new proposal is “not what I had wished for.”

It is speculated that Dayton’s supplemental budget will include his proposal to raise income taxes on high earners, single residents with taxable income of more than $150,000. He has always been a champion of imposing more taxes on the upper 2 percent of wage earners.

Dayton acknowledged that the House and Senate have their “own prerogatives” and may outline other tax solutions. Dayton teased reporters about wanting to reveal parts of his new budget in advance of his announcement tomorrow.

In his speech to veterans, Dayton spoke about Democrats and Republicans coming together to recognize the sacrifices made by military veterans. “We are all Americans, first and foremost, Democrats and Republicans thereafter,” Dayton said. “We have disagreements and that emanates to all the freedoms that you chose to protect.”

Dayton highlighted some of the veterans funding legislation: $1 million to expand the GI Bill; $1 million to county veterans services offices; funding for honor guards; funding for a building project in Fillmore County; $5 million in health care improvements and monies in a bonding bill to renovate the Minneapolis Veterans Home.

Dayton also said he supported legislation to remove state taxation on veterans service and pensions. This legislation honors the dedication and patriotism of our veterans, Dayton said.

“We have asked you for your services and asked you to risk your lives to support our country and its freedoms and principles,” Dayton said. “You answered that call,” he concluded.

Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, introduced the tax-removal legislation on the House side. Dettmer was also a featured speaker during the Veterans Day on the Hill program. He is the minority lead on the State Government Finance & Veterans Affairs Committee. Dettmer is also working on a Veterans Omnibus Bill which he says has bipartisan support. Senate author is Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth.

Dettmer, himself a veteran, said one of his legislative priorities is to see Minnesota as a veteran friendly state for all veterans and their families.

Howard Lestrud can be reached at howard.lestrud@ecm-inc.com

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