State of the State address - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

State of the State address


St. Paul, Minn. (KTTC) --

Governor Mark Dayton announced Wednesday the state of our state is strong. That's despite a projected $6.2 billion budget deficit this year. And many in the audience were waiting to hear exactly how Dayton will help Minnesotans get through this year.

While there were a few specifics of what Governor Dayton would like to see this year, much of this speech were general ideas, all tied together with the hope that democrats and republicans can work well with one another.

In a chamber, mostly filled with Republicans, it's a Democrat Governor that they, and the rest of the state look to for leadership during a major budget crisis. And after 8 years of a republican governor, Dayton has a few vastly different ideas.

"Some will criticize me for proposing next week, to ask those successful businessmen and women, and other wealthy Minnesotans to pay higher taxes. I ask them for their forbearance during this fiscal crisis, which I did not create, but inherited. And now, with you in the legislature, must solve," states Dayton.

Dayton announced several different ideas, all focused around a 5-point-plan: jobs, education, transportation, health, and transformation of government services. While he did announce priorities where he will spend more money, Dayton also says it's time to make major cuts.

"We will examine every area of expenditure and contracting to find ways to cut costs, while improving services. Longer term, we need transformational changes to improve the productivity of government, and bring it fully into the 21st century."

Coming out of the governor's address, the tone of the Republican response was much more cooperative, but GOP leaders say the Governor's proposal is still going in the wrong direction.

"If you take away all the fancy words: investment and re-investment, it's tax and spend. It's more government programs, it's more government spending by raising taxes," explains Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers.

The GOP leaders stood together to say, their focus is create more jobs. And the word they're getting from businesses in the state, is they want less taxes and regulations.

With tough stances on both sides, 2011 could end up being another budget battle showdown.

Next Tuesday, Governor Dayton will give another important address as he outlines his budget proposal, and gives a detailed step-by-step plan on how he wants to balance the budget.

Also during the State of the State address, the governor recognized a couple of Rochester residents. The entire state legislature gave a standing ovation to both Jim Sonju, the principal of Lincoln Choice Elementary school, and 1st brigade commander, Eric Kerska.

They were Governor Dayton's honored guests for the speech. He used them as examples of how Minnesotans are doing things right.

"I think it's important for the brigade, I mean they're from all over the state and I think this is a great honor for them, to know that what they're doing is appreciated and remembered," says Kerska.

"There's a lot of people working really hard on our project to make learning come to life for students, with science and math and it's working for us. It's nice to be recognized here in this venue," exclaims Sonju.

Both Kerska and Sonju say they hope the recognition will bring more focus to their projects and missions.

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