Gov. Mark Dayton said he supports repealing a new farm equipment tax during a brief special session next month that he previously insisted would be limited to storm relief.

“It was a very bad mistake,” the DFL governor said during a visit to Farmfest. The sales tax would cost the state’s farmers a projected $14 million a year.

Dayton said the tax was slipped into the massive tax bill at the end of the legislative session with little notice. “No one wants to take responsibility for it,” said Dayton, who agreed to the tax as part of a much larger tax bill. “I was not aware of it, my staff was not aware of it until the next morning when the tax bill was already buttoned up.”

Republicans saw Dayton’s new flexibility on the tax repeal as an admission that the DFL budget is flawed.

“Just one month after Democrats’ new taxes took effect, they are now admitting Republicans were right,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said in a statement Thursday. “Republicans agree that Democrats’ tax increases hurt Minnesota families and farmers and they should be repealed. By using (a) special session to fix their mistakes, consider this a do-over session for Democrats.”

The governor said he and staffers are looking at a one-day, Sept. 9 session, but the date is not yet firm.

The governor said he would like lawmakers to repeal the farm equipment tax and make it retroactive to July 1, when it went into effect.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, wrote to Republican leaders asking them to sign off on a special session agenda that included only storm relief and a farm tax repeal.

“There is strong bipartisan support for both measures,” the leaders wrote to their Republican counterparts.

Dayton acknowledged that an equipment tax repeal would expand the special session agenda, which he recently said should be limited only to storm-related issues. But, he said, quoting an adage, “I’d rather be right than consistent.”


Staff writer Jennifer Brooks contributed to this report.