Mar 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - Governor Mark Dayton found an audience with the citizens of central Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Throughout his 1.5 hours at St. Cloud City Hall, the Governor explained the logic behind his budget proposal, and gathered feedback from some of the well over 100 central Minnesotan attendees of the open-mic town hall-style meeting.
His message was simple - the time has come to increase taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans.
"Right now, the facts are that middle-income Minnesota families pay a higher share of their income in taxes than the wealthiest one percent, which just isn't fair," Dayton told reporters.
Dayton says taxing that top tier will in large part fix the $627 million budget deficit and fill in financial holes in education, healthcare and human services funding.
"We can invest that addition money in, for example, education," Dayton stressed. "Higher education is at it's lowest for state support since the 1980s."
According to state statistics provided, 750 Stearns County residents fit into the top 2% of earners. The Governor's budget proposal reports that increasing taxes on those individuals will generate $9,020,664.
The Governor says this translates into over $2 million in LGA funding for the city in 2014, as well as a funding hike for St. Cloud Public Schools of nearly $5 million.
Attendees' questions were heavily focused on the tax increases, both in favor and critical. Several residents expressed that, while they are willing to pay more in taxes, they want assurance that the funding will be put toward its intended goal.
Others spoke up on topics of improving state mental health services, increased funding for infrastructure and putting more dollars into education at all levels.
When asked which upcoming bills he plans to veto, Dayton said, with 8 more weeks left of legislative decision-making time, he couldn't say.
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