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Published January 23 2010

Dayton would tax wealthy to fund education

Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton brought his gubernatorial campaign to the Red River Valley on Friday morning, declaring he wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans in order to improve funding for public education.

Dayton, who’s vying for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nomination, touted his 35 years of public service experience in state and federal government as the reason why he’s the best candidate to lead Minnesota.

“I know how to win, but more importantly, I know how to govern,” Dayton said before a dozen supporters who gathered at Moorhead’s Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center.

If elected, the St. Paul native said his first priority will be to raise taxes on the wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans in order to increase state funding for K-12 public education and lower college tuition costs.

“You can read my lips: Tax the rich,” Dayton said, putting a reverse spin on the famous quote from former Republican President George H. W. Bush.

Dayton is a member of the family that founded the department store chain of the same name that later became the Target stores of today.

The wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans includes households that earn $136,000 or more annually, Dayton’s campaign office said.

That figure does not distinguish between individuals or married couples, who would be affected differently by an income tax increase, depending on how they file.

State revenue analysts estimate the additional tax dollars coming in would amount to about $3.8 billion within the current two years, Dayton said.

He criticized Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty for squandering former budget surpluses and “allowing the wealthiest Minnesotans to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”

“It’s time for a governor to lead us in a new direction, to the greatness that Minnesotans deserve,” Dayton said. “I will be that governor.”

Friday’s campaign stop in Moorhead marked the third day of Dayton’s tour across Minnesota, in which he plans to visit the state’s 87 counties in 87 days.

Dayton had stops planned later Friday in Fergus Falls and Alexandria. Next week, the tour will bring him to East Grand Forks and the surrounding area, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541