Gov. Mark Dayton’s second State of the State speech was received warming by fellow Democrats, but Republicans didn’t like his criticism of their efforts to help the state.
“I found it to be a cry for bipartisanship, while at the same time taking shots at Republicans,” said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, “I wish he would have stuck to policy proposals and talking about what kind of things he’d like to do.”
Dayton’s speech was a relatively brief 27 minutes and didn’t lay out broad new policy initiatives. Instead, the governor focused on his determination to improve the state’s economy now and in the future. Democrats welcomed his insistence on improving colleges and universities, passing a $775 million bonding bill and building new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
“Clearly, Governor Dayton wants to build a legacy for the future,” said House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. “We have a responsibility to do things that will make a difference for our kids, and I think that should be all of our goals.”
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said the speech was conciliatory, but hit all the right points.
“He did a great job laying out the priorities of jobs and the economy and making key public investments,” Dibble said. “That’s exactly what we need to be doing.”
Rep. Steve Drazkowski said he took away several messages, but all with the same unhelpful theme: Republicans are the problem.
“It was a speech that was not inspiring, it wasn’t one that inspired people to following people to follow a vision of leadership,” said Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. “At one point, he said help me pass my $775 million bonding bill, and then in the next breath he said we have got to stop borrowing.”
There were some bipartisan subtexts to the evening.
Republican Sens. John Howe of Red Wing and Jeremy Miller of Winona were among those who escorted Dayton into the House chamber.
Howe had been in regular contact with the governor before last summer’s government shutdown and Miller traveled with Dayton on a trade mission to Korea.
“It was great, we had a nice chance to talk,” Howe said.
Howe acknowledged he might get some guff from Republican colleagues for walking in with the governor.
“There are certainly places we can work together and move forward,” he said. “I thought it set a good tone.”