Gov. Mark Dayton has remained hospitalized at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for the past month after complications from a back surgery.
The governor said during an interview this week that he was still at Mayo because of "post-surgical complications" that damaged his lungs. He has been going through physical therapy, and he said he is otherwise recovering well. Dayton said it has not affected his ability to continue working with his commissioners and other staff members, with whom he has been in contact on a regular basis.
Dayton said he intends to return to St. Paul by Thanksgiving. But a spokeswoman noted that his return to the Capitol is at the discretion of his doctors. He leaves office in early January after not running for a third term this year.
Dayton had two back surgeries in October to relieve pressure on his nerves and improve his stability and leg strength.
"It's been a much longer stretch than I bargained or planned for," Dayton said of his past month in the hospital.
He previously underwent similar surgeries to fuse his lower back vertebrae, in 2012 and 2015. The governor's office sent out a statement in October saying he would remain at Mayo Clinic for a few days after the procedure.
Health issues have been a struggle for the 71-year-old governor. In addition to his back surgeries, Dayton underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2017. He revealed his cancer diagnosis the day after he collapsed during a State of the State speech, which he blamed on dehydration.
Dayton said he has been in touch with Gov.-elect Tim Walz and has plans to meet with Walz once he's back home. A Democrat like Dayton, Walz and his transition team have set up an office in the State Capitol as they work on staffing up his new administration and preparing a budget and policy agenda for the legislative session that starts on Jan. 8. Walz will be sworn in a day earlier, on Jan. 7.
Dayton's employees have been working closely with the incoming staff, members of the Walz administration said Thursday. Budget officials with the current administration are preparing to give a forecast on Dec. 5 detailing Minnesota's economic outlook and revenue, and the officials are also providing assistance to members of the Walz administration as they dive into the budgeting process.
Dayton has said little publicly about his plans after his time in office ends, except that he'll be retired from politics and that he'd like to work with schoolchildren in some way.