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Senate Dayton tax plan defeat called theater

ST. PAUL -- The Republican-controlled Senate voted 63-1 Thursday against Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal to raise taxes on Minnesota's richest residents, but Dayton and other Democrats called the debate meaningless theater.

"I'm glad people are having fun," Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said sarcastically. "I hope some of your relatives are watching."

Only Sen. Dave Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, voted for the Dayton taxes.

Dayton sent a letter to Bakk this morning urging that all legislators vote against the proposal "as a way to reject this charade."

The tactic Republicans used is common in the Legislature: A bill is brought up before it goes through the normal committee process to force a vote that could make the governor look bad. Democrats at times used the same tactic against GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Democrats said that the tax increase was just part of the Dayton budget plan, and part of the budget should not be considered by itself.

"We need to get going on the budget, so we want to get a sense of the Senate, a Senate position on the governor's tax plan," Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said.

Moments after the tax plan went down, Republicans Tweeted that the Dayton plan earned a bipartisan defeat.

Republicans said the tax plan would hurt Minnesota businesses.

"Gov Dayton's tax increase will penalize the exact people who we need to help us grow out of the recession," Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, said. "Minnesota will become a high-tax island and that will make us even less comparative with our neighbors."

Republican Sen. Ted Lillie of Lake Elmo, who represents Woodbury, also commented via Twitter on the outcome: "MN Senate opposes Gov. Dayton's budget 63 to 1."

Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, voted against the measure.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.