Governor-elect Mark Dayton told a crowd at the University of Minnesota Thursday night that accomplishing his goals to alleviate poverty would be “very difficult,” given the dire state of Minnesota’s budget.
The newly elected governor said he does not have the advantages that Gov. Rudy Perpich, one of his mentors, had when he stepped into office. At the time, Republican Gov. Al Quie had held several special sessions to balance the budget, allowing Perpich to enact an anti-poverty agenda, Dayton said.
“Those resources were available because his predecessor had taken the responsibility, the legislature had taken the responsibility to balance the budget and allow them to move ahead,” Dayton said. “So different, so totally different from the crisis that we face today. So I’ll be honest with you, it’s going to be very difficult to enact the initiatives that I proposed in my campaign that I believe in, that I know all of you view as so crucial.”
Some of those proposed initiatives, Dayton said, are providing fully funded early childhood education, optional all-day kindergarten and wage subsidies.
“But those need to be our goals,” Dayton said. “Those need to be our objectives. Those need to be our commitments.”
Dayton pointed several times to recommendations in a legislative report to end poverty by 2020. He said the poverty problem is only worsening in Minnesota, however.
“We know what the ingredients are, so why is it that we as a society fail to put them together?”
Dayton added the state should "enlist the business community in this as a cause, as a moral imperative, as an economic and social benefit to the state of Minnesota."
Dayton made the remarks at a dinner featuring presentations on how to alleviate poverty. It was simulcast to several corresponding events across the state.