Dayton urges lawmakers to take political risks by backing preschool, road money

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Gov. Mark Dayton used his State of the State speech Thursday to urge Minnesota lawmakers to look beyond public opinion polls and take political risks, namely by supporting new state spending on preschool education and road repair.

Speaking to House and Senate members at the Capitol, Dayton said there will be some moments of truth during the remaining weeks of the legislative session, and asked lawmakers ""Will we do what is easy, safe, and popular; or will we risk our political lives to preserve this great state for future generations?"

Rather than roll out new initiatives, Dayton made the case for ones he'd already unveiled, particularly his plans to upgrade transportation, expand preschool, and embark on state construction projects that would create jobs, FOX 9 reports.

Republicans, who control the Minnesota House, have not been supportive of the governor's initiatives and showed no signs of a turnaround Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Senate Republicans released a proposal of their own, calling for across-the-board income tax cuts amounting to 0.5 percent for all Minnesota taxpayers.

Altogether, GOP leaders are proposing about $2 billion dollars worth of tax cuts – an amount only slightly larger than Minnesota's projected budget surplus for the next two years, which is nearly $1.9 billion.

Kurt Daudt, the Republican Speaker of the House, tells the Associated Press he took comfort from the fact that Dayton did not blast GOP tax cut proposals in his speech. Daudt says a final budget agreement will have to include some cuts.

Closed-door negotiations involving Dayton, Daudt, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk will be a prerequisite to a final budget deal, if this budget-writing session is like its predecessors. The Legislature is required to adjourn by May 18.

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