Dayton and Bakk feud put to bed as pair unite to promote $6B gas tax plan


There's nothing like a controversial gas tax to mend fences between feuding politicians.

Governor Mark Dayton appeared with Senate Majority Leader and fellow DFLer Tom Bakk for the first time since their very public falling out over Dayton's decision to increase commissioner salaries by up to $35,000.

The reason for this reconciliation? The pair were showing solidarity as Minnesota's Democrats push ahead with a plan for a wholesale tax on gas that will partly fund a proposed $6 billion highways improvement program over the next decade.

The 6.5 percent tax is firmly opposed by Republicans, but at the joint press conference Thursday, Dayton challenged them to come up with an alternative.

"I would urge House Republicans to come forward with a real proposal," he said, according to the Star Tribune, which reported he also accused Republicans of "sticking their head in the sand."

"We cannot ignore this problem any longer," he added, according to KARE 11. "It is time to face the very serious consequences of doing nothing – or next to nothing – this session."

WCCO reports that House Speaker Kurt Daudt issued a statement after the press conference assuring that state Republicans will be coming forward with an alternative.

"In the coming weeks, Republicans will unveil our comprehensive plan that invests in Minnesota roads and bridges without raising taxes and taking more money from families," he said.

"Legislative Democrats and Governor Dayton should acknowledge that most Minnesotans are not supportive of their plan, and that their gas tax increase is regressive and harmful to low and middle-income families," he added.

Daudt has previously said that the $1.9 billion surplus that the state reported at the end of last month shows that a gas tax is unneccessary.

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