In “Dayton’s moment to decide,” Star Tribune political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger purports to summarize the impasse that has produced Minnesota’s government shutdown. According to Stassen-Berger, Minnesota’s highly medicated governor faces a stark choice: “Dayton must decide whether to stick to his principles against determined opponents, or seek a fresh, if painful, compromise.” As usual with Stassen-Berger’s reportage on the budget battle, critical facts go missing in the interest of her service in the public relations arm of Dayton’s office.
It is true that Dayton believes in increasing taxes on “millionaires” the way most of us believe in God. It’s an article of faith that is the centerpiece of his creed. Minnesota is a state that features high income taxes, but those damned “millionaires” are somehow always escaping payment of their “fair share.” When will it ever end?
Facing a projected biennial deficit of billions of dollars, Dayton is demanding an increase in income taxes. It’s a demand that is a non-starter for the Republican majorities in the state legislature. Led by House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch the Republicans have, so far, hung tough. Stassen-Berger also notes the Republican opposition to increasing taxes.
So what’s wrong with this picture? Stassen-Berger fails to note that on June 29 Dayton submitted an offer to the Republican legislative leaders that took tax increases off the table. See the parties’ budget offer sheets posted here and Baird Helgeson’s Star Tribune story here.
Stassen-Berger also fails to note that during the campaign last fall Dayton promised not to hold out for income taxes in the face of a government shutdown. Thus the painful choice Stassen-Berger portrays Dayton facing is false.
On October 24, 2010, in a gubernatorial debate on 5 Eyewitness News Dayton vowed not to allow a government shutdown in order to ram through his proposed tax increases. So far as I am aware, only 5 Eyewitness News reporter Tom Hauser has recalled this prescient exchange.