Dayton on state budgeting, flood relief

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton joined northeastern Minnesota government and private sector officials in addressing the government's response to flooding in northeastern Minnesota Friday afternoon outside the Public Safety Building in Duluth, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR

It's been a busy summer so far for Gov. Mark Dayton. Since we last spoke to him in March, northern Minnesota has flooded, he returned from a trip to China and the Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of the health reform law.

Dayton joined The Daily Circuit Tuesday to catch us up and discuss the future of the state budget.

Dayton's administration is reviewing 90 requests that would cost nearly $300 million as it seeks to allocate the $47.5 million pool of money available in the bonding bill. Dayton said he hopes to have a decision about how the money will be spent by the end of August.

Dayton said he's concerned about future implications of spending $14 million on the proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail transit project.

He said he supports the LRT line, but if the state spends the $14 million now, it might not have the more than $100 million the project would need in the next bonding bill.

"I don't know where we do the light rail," Dayton said. "I don't know how we're going continue these things that need to be funded. And that's part of what we're going to have to work on."

The Legislature has to be involved with the future of light rail transit funding, he said.

When it comes to Medicaid spending, Dayton said the state should audit its Medicaid spending going back 10 years to make sure funds are being properly spent and used as efficiently as possible.

Medicaid is the state and federal health insurance program for low-income people and those with disabilities. Earlier this year a congressional committee questioned whether Minnesota overstated some costs to bring in more federal money. State officials and health care plans have denied any wrongdoing.

Dayton said a thorough audit can provide a lot of valuable information.

"We're spending a lot of money there; we want to do it better," he said. "We've come up with some of the ways to do it better and we need more ideas. I was a form state auditor. I think you get a lot of value out of an audit because it's not only about the proper expenditure of the funds, but also the efficiency, the performance and the like. And I welcome that if we can get the legislature to go along with it, we'll get it started."

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