Governor Mark Dayton was welcomed again this year as a featured speaker at last night’s annual dinner for The Minnesota Business Partnership. The theme this year was “Minnetopia: We don’t want to brag, but we’re better than you.”
The invite-only event featured the Governor who told about 1,000 representatives from business, politics, and the lobbying world to ask themselves: “Do you need a couple hundred dollar tax cut more than a 4-year-old child needs a year of pre-kindergarten, more than you and your families need streets and highways to drive on or a safer state with less inequity and bias?” according to the Pioneer Press report.
Dayton also told the Business Partnership audience on Thursday that his focus for the rest of his term would be on reducing racial disparities in income, housing, healthcare, and education and said that Minnesota needed new immigrants and “people of color” to fill jobs of retiring workers per the Pioneer Press. He restated his support for government-funded universal PreK for all Minnesota 4-year-olds per the Star Tribune’s account.
The Star Tribune’s story on Dayton’s speech also included the widely-cited recent U.S. census bureau finding that median household income for black families in Minnesota has dropped sharply. A University of Minnesota professor has questioned the numbers, but it hasn’t stopped the local media from using them to advance Dayton’s policy plans.
The Business Partnership advocates for policies to address Minnesota’s poor business tax climate, currently ranked 47th in the country according to The Tax Foundation. The Partnership also advocates for more state spending on things like the expansion of government-funded PreK scholarships for low-income families. State spending on the scholarships has grown from $8 million in the 2011-2012 biennial budget to $104 million in the 2016-2017 budget passed by the legislature in June.
The Dayton family has a $1.6 billion trust fund and is one of “America’s Richest Families” for 2015 according to Forbes Magazine. Dayton pays a 22% effective federal tax rate and an 8.5% effective state tax rate on his income as Governor and dividend income. The “tax the rich” mantra pushed by Dayton and his ex-wife, and top Democrat donor, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, has propelled Minnesota into the #4 spot for highest income taxes after California, Hawaii, and Oregon.
Dayton has set the stage for next year’s legislative session, and it looks to be one of more wealth redistribution and more spending of the remaining $1.billion (of the original $2 billion,) taxpayer surplus.