Dayton warns tax opposition could be “death of the country”

Governor Mark Dayton says he'll continue to push his plan to raise taxes on Minnesota's top earners in his next budget plan.

Dayton told a group at the University of Minnesota today that his administration is coming up with a plan to overhaul the entire tax code to make the tax system fairer to lower and middle income people. He didn't offer specifics but said his plan would continue to include an income tax hike on the state's top 2 percent of earners.

Dayton also criticized Republicans in the Legislature and in Congress for being reluctant to raise taxes to pay for new programs.

"This unwillingness to pay taxes and seeing it as a threat to our freedom and our liberty and our way of life, to me, is going to be the death of this country if it's not corrected," Dayton said.

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Dayton said he didn't want to release his tax plan now because he didn't want it to get "mired in politics" during the campaign season. When pressed for specifics, Dayton said voters have a clear choice between his policies and the plans put forward by GOP legislative leaders.

"What people need to know and can vote on is that I'm committed to raising taxes on the wealthiest two percent of Minnesotans to make our tax system less regressive and the Republicans oppose that," Dayton said. "That to me is the acid test."

Republicans have criticized Dayton's call to raise taxes because they say it would make business owners less willing to invest in Minnesota.

Dayton said several other things during the wide ranging speech and interview.

He said he supports opening up trade with Cuba.

He's open to lowering the state's corporate tax rate but may close other unspecified loopholes.

He said he won't present a state based health exchange to the federal government until after the election. He also said it's an open question as to whether he can create the health exchange without legislative input.

He'll spend the next few months going to key business leaders and asking them what they need to succeed.

Here's Dayton's full speech:

Here's his q and a with the U of M's Larry Jacobs: