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Dayton: Cuts, taxes needed to close budget gap

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2012 Legislature opens
Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Gov. Mark Dayton said spending cuts in all departments are being considered to fill the state's just-announced budget gap, but he said the deficit shouldn't be solved with cuts alone, and new tax revenues should be part any legislative package moving forward.

Dayton spoke Thursday on MPR's Morning Edition, where he also said he would sign a same-sex marriage legalization bill if it reached his desk.

On the budget, Dayton acknowledged that expanding the sales tax to clothing would be unpopular, and said he doesn't know if a bill could even pass the legislature. But he said the option should be on the table, along with an income tax hike for top earners, to solve the state's projected $1.1 billion budget deficit. 

"There are no easy answers," he said. "We were put in a difficult situation because of the legacy of the past."

Dayton said spending cuts in all departments are also being considered to fill the gap, but he said the deficit shouldn't be solved with cuts alone, noting budget cuts have "damaging effects on people's lives."

On raising taxes, Dayton said "it's not that it's great to do or good to do, it's that if you don't do this you have to do something else. If you don't raise any taxes, you have to cut spending drastically again."

Wednesday's economic forecast also noted that revenues from electronic pull tabs to fund the new Vikings stadium are lagging. Dayton said it's too soon to know whether there's just a delay or if the revenue won't meet projections. If it's clear that it won't meet projections, Dayton said lawmakers might have to increase the amount of electronic pull tab revenue going to the stadium.

When asked about legalizing same-sex marriage after Minnesotans defeated a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, Dayton said he would sign a bill if it comes to him. But he said he's unsure if the Legislature is ready to consider the issue. 

"I hope we're going to get to that point. The younger generation is broadly accepting of that change and we'll get there, it's just a question of when," he said.

Elizabeth Dunbar continued to this report

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Follow Cathy Wurzer on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cathywurzer