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Governor woos DFL votes

DULUTH, Minn. -- Predictably toeing a DFL party line, Gov. Mark Dayton sought to sway voters -- at both at the presidential and state levels -- during a Tuesday morning appearance at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, where he delivered ...

DULUTH, Minn. -- Predictably toeing a DFL party line, Gov. Mark Dayton sought to sway voters - at both at the presidential and state levels - during a Tuesday morning appearance at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, where he delivered the keynote address at the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s 53rd annual constitutional convention.

He told an enthusiastic crowd: “We’re just 42 days away from a critically important election for our country and our state. And I’m proud to support Hillary Clinton for president. During the six years I served in the U.S. Senate, I sat next to Hillary, and I saw firsthand her deep commitment to the people we care about, to the causes we support and to putting government on the side of the people, not the powerful.”

Dayton’s comments regarding her Republican rival were considerably more succinct.

“As for Donald Trump, well … I’ll follow my mother’s old adage. She said, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.’ So I have nothing to say about Donald Trump,” he said.

Dayton also called on Minnesotans to wrest control of the Minnesota House of Representatives away from Republicans, whom he blames for the Legislature’s failure to pass state bonding and transportation bills this past session.

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Dayton said he could not support the House transportation bill that was proposed.  

“The bill the House passed provided $300 million for highway projects which was to be taken out of the general fund. That’s not a good idea to begin with, because it takes away money from education and social services, things like health care,” he said.

Dayton also observed that most of the proposed funding was for road projects located in districts where House Republicans faced competitive races.

Speaking after his public address, Dayton said he’s not the only one who thinks the politically motivated projects crossed a line.

“Eleven former chairs of the Senate and House Transportation committees - eight Democrats and three Republicans - put out a public letter that that was a terrible idea, a dangerous precedent. But they refused to budge from that. They insisted on naming the projects, and that’s the reason why when it came down to the end where the Senate and I would not agree to their earmarks. That’s what’s preventing a special session, which I think now would be silly before the election. By then, we’re two months away from the next session,” he said..

Dayton acknowledged the inaction of state government this session leaves cities like Duluth in the lurch. Duluth’s unfulfilled bonding requests included $21 million to replace and upgrade a faltering steam heat system serving the downtown, $27 million for a new science hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth, $12.7 million to help clean up pollution in the St. Louis River estuary, $8 million for a proposed heat and power system fueled by biogas at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District and about $2 million for improvements to the Lake Superior Zoo.

Speaking of the failure to fund those projects, Dayton said: “It’s very unfortunate, and it hurts Duluth. It hurts so many good, important projects all over the state.”

Dayton said the value of these investments surpasses the benefit of the finished products they yield.

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“One of the main reasons why the transportation and bonding bills are so important is because they create jobs. Some Republicans refuse to understand that government investments to build highways, repair bridges, expand public transit lines, renovate older public buildings and build new ones all put people to work,” he said.

“As I look back on the past six years, I’m most proud of what my administration has done to provide jobs for Minnesotans, good jobs, well-paying jobs, many of them union jobs with good benefits and pensions,” Dayton said.

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