Dayton questioned on gun law proposals, education in St. Cloud town hall

Town hall
Gov. Mark Dayton spoke to more than 200 people on transportation, education and small business issues at a town hall in St. Cloud, Tuesday March 26, 2013.
MPR Photo/Conrad Wilson

More than 200 people attended a town hall meeting in St. Cloud Tuesday night to hear Gov. Mark Dayton discuss his budget proposal.

It was the third stop in a string of appearances in greater Minnesota cities that included Moorhead and Duluth.

Dayton talked about raising taxes on the state's top earners as well as funding education and transportation around Minnesota. The audience also asked questions ranging from gun legislation to funding for education.

Audience members also talked about congestion along the Interstate 94 corridor. A public policy professor from St. Cloud State suggested to Dayton that better public transportation and a light rail along the highway might be a good way to relieve traffic jams.

"Well anybody here who teaches public policy should do a case study on the, excuse me, but the idiocy of building the Northstar line having it stop 12 miles short of the major population center," Dayton said.

The governor said the state did not have the foresight decades ago to invest when federal transportation funding was greater, and is now left with the challenge of trying to catch up.

One audience member suggested the state also could benefit from casino revenues. Currently that is limited to Native American tribes.

Dayton responded that he supported a casino at the Mall of America during his unsuccessful run for governor in 1998.

"I've now proposed that we ought to look at -- we won't be able to do it this session -- but do one at the [Minneapolis - St. Paul International] airport," Dayton said. "We're going to have to find other sources of revenue and people want to game, so I'm open to it."

Responding to another audience member, Dayton said he has not had a chance to speak with DFL legislative leaders about their proposed cuts to the Department of Human Services.

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