ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As Governor Dayton left a University of Minnesota leadership conference on Friday, he told students "thanks for not asking me about the budget." Once he stepped out of the room, he proceeded to patiently answer 20 minutes worth of budget questions.
"I'm going to drop the proposal to tax business to business services," he said. He also noted that the tax on high end clothing and the $500 property tax rebate were also likely off the table. "That was largely funded by the revenues from the sales tax extension," he said when asked about the rebate.
Dayton told reporters that the business to business tax was unpopular and divisive. "It's really refreshing to have a Governor who is willing to work together and listen," DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen of Minneapolis said.
"I have never seen businesses more concerned," David Olson, President of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, remarked. "I don't think anybody is throwing a big party and celebrating. I think we're happy but there's more work to be done," he added.
"We hope that means that he's (the Governor) going to perhaps scale back his expectations for spending," Republican Senate Minority Leader David Hann said.
The Governor did make it clear that he intends to continue the push for an increase in taxes on the state's most wealthy; a move Speaker Thissen wholeheartedly supports. "It should be looked at very critically," Republican Senator Julie Rosen of Fairmont warned.
The budgeting conversation will continue. Governor Dayton said it changed recently, when a more optimistic economic forecast was released. "The improved forecast definitely made a big difference," he explained.
"Maybe plan C is to let the economy continue to grow and we can see more revenue," Chamber President Olson said.
Governor Dayton will meet with his fiscal team and come up with some new ideas and analysis on Tuesday.
"I understand changes are going to happen and that this is a dialogue, but at the end of the day, just a swing at it? That's not good enough," House Republican Kelby Woodard, the Assistant Minority Leader, said in a news conference.
Dayton says he's been asking for other ideas and plans for weeks now. "I'm frankly disappointed that I have not heard anything comprehensive from anybody else."
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