Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders found a bit of common ground and plenty room for disagreement as they looked ahead to the upcoming legislative session.
Democrats will have complete control of state government for the first time in more than two decades, but the governor and the DFL leadership tried to tamp down expectations in the shadow of the fiscal cliff and a still-shaky economy.
"Any tip-toe we take, we'll be accused of overreaching," Dayton told reporters during a Monday morning roundtable with incoming House Speaker Paul Thissen, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Minority Leader David Hann.
"This is not going to be, as some fear and some hope, a sky's-the-limit sort of approach. We have a $1.1 billion deficit we have to offset...We still owe the schools," Dayton continued. "We're not out of the fiscal hole that we dug for ourselves over the previous couple of bienniums. That's going to be the first reality."
For their part, GOP leaders balked at Democratic talk of tax increases -- a move Hann warned could cost jobs, sparking an argument with Dayton over the data Hann was using to back up his claim. Daudt signaled that there could be Republican support for another bonding bill, as long as it benefits rural areas as well as the big cities.
On social issues like gay marriage, Democrats were cautious, calling for more statewide debate on the issue. Bakk noted that he wouldn't be opposed to a bill legalizing medical marijuana, if it could address law enforcement concerns.