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Rochester highlighted in Dayton's State of the State address

Rochester highlighted in Dayton's State of the State address
Gov. Mark Dayton arrives Wednesday in the House chambers to give his State of the State address at the Capitol in St. Paul.

ST. PAUL — DFL Gov. Mark Dayton emphasized jobs in his State of the State address Wednesday night and used Rochester to help him make the case for one of his top initiatives.

The governor, speaking in the House chamber to a joint gathering of the Legislature, called on lawmakers to pass a construction borrowing bill within the next month to get people to work. He has proposed a $775 million bonding bill that includes $35 million to expand the Mayo Civic Center. And while he never mentioned the project specifically by name, he talked about the importance of investing in Minnesota's downtowns.

"Every year the city of Rochester and Olmsted County send almost $90 million more to the state treasury in taxes than they receive back in LGA, school aid and other assistance," Dayton said. "Why wouldn’t we want to make these and other key cities as successful as possible?"

Dayton also honored five mayors from cities with civic center proposals or other large downtown projects included in his bonding proposal. Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede was among those mayors singled out during the speech.

While Rochester area lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed it was great to see the city featured, reaction to the speech fell largely along party lines.


But Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem , R-Rochester, said the speech was more of a reset of Dayton's current plans, he appreciated the cooperative tone.

"I think there was a spirit of cooperation that was expressed that has not been as forthrightly expressed before, at least in the more recent past," Senjem said.

DFL Rep. Tina Liebling said she found the governor’s speech exciting and agrees more needs to be done to create jobs in the state. She said she was also pleased to see the governor calling on lawmakers to back these downtown construction projects.

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, was also glad to see Rochester highlighted during the governor’s speech, but questions Dayton’s emphasis on his plan to raise taxes on wealthier Minnesotans.

"I am not so sure that the governor’s tax increases that he wanted so badly and was willing to go to a government shutdown over would have put us in good stead. But I appreciate the fact he is interested in working on jobs," she said.

During his speech, Dayton outlined his other key proposals for job creation including building a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and passing a tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed Minnesotans, veterans and recent college graduates.

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