They reject his charge that their budget plans are cruel and committee chairs disrespectful.
So much for collegiality.
In two different settings Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton delivered blistering denunciations of the Republicans who control the Legislature, calling their budget-cutting plans "cruel" and "draconian."
He also said GOP committee chairs, rushing to assemble budget bills, are showing disrespect to his commissioners and to members of the public.
Dayton said Republican lawmakers have attempted to "minimize the public awareness of the consequences" of their budget decisions through limiting testimony and public access to their actions.
Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, took exception to what he called Dayton's "rather harsh criticism," saying the "draconian" description "seems to me to be rhetoric -- not substantive. And I don't think it's helpful in our effort to get these things done."
Speaking to reporters, Dayton said committee chairs have been "very disrespectful" to his commissioners -- particularly noting the treatment of the Human Services, Education and Human Rights agency heads. He said chairmen have provided very limited time for them to speak -- allowing only 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, if that.
"I think they don't want to hear from everybody," the governor said.
Thompson and Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, the House education committee chairman, defended the hearing process in both chambers.
Garofolo said he gave Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius as much time as she requested to testify. "In our committee we stopped the presentation and allowed the commissioner to testify," Garofalo said. He said he has a "great working relationship" with her.
Dayton also criticized the GOP's approach at the Legislature in a speech to about 500 local government officials meeting in St. Paul.
"We're talking up there [at the Capitol] about dollars and cents," he said. "But we're talking about people's lives. Every one of those dollars that's called spending in a pejorative way is a dollar that goes to help a real person here in Minnesota."
He stressed his long-standing contention that the Republicans' plan to patch Minnesota's $5 billion budget deficit by cutting spending without raising taxes will particularly devastate local government operations. But he repeatedly returned to the effect he said it will have on all Minnesotans' lives.
"Every one of those dollars that is cut takes away something that means something to someone's life," he said. "These decisions are not just about dollars and cents; they're about our values and priorities, our values as people individually and our collective values as a society."
As for Republicans' flat refusal to consider his plan to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans, "all of these draconian measures that are being considered or enacted now are being driven, at least by the majority view, that we cannot raise taxes one dollar on the wealthiest people in the state," Dayton said. He added that the GOP's priority on "protecting the richest people in Minnesota ... the top 5 percent" of income earners, "matters more than everyone else paying higher property taxes."
Dayton dismissed Republicans' contention that the wealthiest Minnesotans will flee the state if their taxes go up. "I think wealthy Minnesotans are better than that," he said. "No one likes to pay taxes. I recognize that. ... I don't raise anybody's taxes [to get] any kind of satisfaction. I look at it as a necessity for Minnesota."