Republican state Rep. Greg Davids was in Willmar Tuesday night, saying the governor proposed eliminating a tax credit that could increase property taxes for many Minnesotans.
The problem is, Gov. Mark Dayton said it was Republicans who came up with the idea and pushed it in the final days before the budget agreement. On Thursday, Dayton sent a letter to Davids telling him his account is “completely and absolutely untrue.”
Davids, who chairs the powerful House Taxes Committee, was in Willmar to explain tax changes that are now law. According to the West Central Tribune, Davids told the crowd that Dayton proposed eliminating the market value homestead credit to help wipe out the $5 billion projected budget deficit.
In his letter, the governor said Republicans who control the Legislature inserted the provision in their budget proposal, “which I vetoed.”
Dayton said none of his budget proposals included a reduction or cut of the homestead tax credit. But the governor said he agreed to the elimination – which Republicans insisted on – as part of the final compromise with legislators to end the 20-day government shutdown.
“However, I did not agree with them then, nor do I now,” Dayton wrote. Later, he added: “I ask you describe accurately who proposed and insisted upon those actions."
Davids said late Friday he doesn’t dispute the governor’s letter, but said they are talking about two different things.
Republicans first proposed the idea, Davids said, but Dayton included the provision in his first offer during final budget negotiations.
“So we are both right,” said Davids, from Preston.
Davids said the governor needs to take responsibility for the budget he signed.
“I find it interesting that he signed it into law, but he doesn’t take responsibility because he doesn’t like it,” Davids said. “There are things in there I don’t like, but I voted for it.”
Davids, who has been in the Legislature for 20 years, said the first-term governor is still learning how things work around the Capitol.
“He’s new here,” Davids said. “He will get over it.”
The war of words continued into the weekend.
Dayton spokesman Bob Hume said Saturday that Dayton has served in state government for a total of 11 legislative sessions, beginning more than 10 years before Davids won his seat.
"We know the difference between fact and fiction and are very familiar with Republican attempts to shift the blame for their policies which, when enacted, prove to be unpopular," Hume said. "The elimination of this credit and the resulting increase in property taxes were the result of GOP proposals during session, in their conference reports and during negotiations."