Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL leaders who openly feuded last month over pay for Dayton's commissioners, appeared together publicly for the first time since the ruckus at a news conference today to push for transportation funding.
Both Dayton and DFL Senators have proposed similar plans for a wholesale gas tax to fund $6 billion in road and bridge work plus more for transit improvements.
Today's event sought to show the two sides united on transportation funding. Both Dayton and Bakk attacked House Republicans, who have said that in light of the budget surplus, a gas tax increase is unnecessary to fund transportation.
Republicans and Democrats are far apart on road funding.
Dayton said new revenue is a must: "I would urge House Republicans to come forward with a real proposal," he said, accusing Republicans of "sticking their head in the sand." Bakk said he would not agree to using general fund money for transportation, which Republicans have proposed, because of the risk of a recession and lower revenue that would force transportation to compete with education and other priorities in leaner budget times.
House GOP Speaker Kurt Daudt issued a statement, saying Democrats had "doubled down on their unpopular plan to raise the gas tax and take more money out of the hands of hardworking Minnesotans."
All eyes in the crowded governor's press briefing room today were on Bakk and Dayton. Neither acknowledged the feud until a question was asked about it, after which the two put their arms around each other as if show reconciliation is at hand.