Gov. Dayton Visits Rochester: Talks DMC, Civic Center, and More

Posted at: 04/04/2013 10:43 PM
Updated at: 04/04/2013 10:48 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Governor Dayton was in Rochester Thursday to hear from our communities and any concerns they may have with his proposed budget. Thursday night's conversation was almost entirely controlled by the public.

Of course DMC and the Civic Center expansion are some of the biggest topics on the radar, but a lot of other ground was covered too.

Governor Dayton’s introduction started out with a few jokes, but quickly got right to the point. "I really enjoy working with you," he said to Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede. "We've had a real good working relationship.

I keep trying to bring the funding, the bonding bill for the Civic Center, down a little bit, and you keep pushing it a little bit higher, and now it's going to be in next week at $35 million," laughed Gov. Dayton.

During an separate conversation with the governor beforehand, he stressed the importance of projects like the Civic Center expansion. "Anything we can do to strengthen the core of the downtown is beneficial to everybody," said Gov. Dayton.

Of course, DMC falls right in that category. "I'm very strongly supportive of it. Mayo is just a phenomenal resource and a priceless resource for Minnesota," said Gov. Dayton.

Though he says the funding mechanism will have to be ironed out. "I told Mayo they disagree with me all the time, so they shouldn't expect otherwise and that's the kind of scrutiny a project of this magnitude requires," said Gov. Dayton.

Budgetary concerns were on the forefront on a number of issues. "We've done about as much as we can with as little as we're getting, and we're at the point of breaking," said RCTC Instructor Pan Whitfield. She was one to stand out Thursday night.

She shared her concerns with required testing in schools and higher education funding. "I appreciate his budget, his effort to bring money back into education," said Whitfield.

Her question seemed to impress Governor Dayton too. "Give your contact number to Sarah. I'll bring you to lunch and bring in Casellious and we'll talk about this in more depth," said Gov. Dayton.

“I got a lunch invitation from the governor. That was pretty nice, didn't come expecting that!" said Whitfield.

In each response, Governor Dayton wasn't afraid to throw it all out there. "I was more impressed with the next response where he gave out him home phone number," laughed Whitfield.

As we mentioned, many topics were covered Thursday. Getting back to DMC, there were questions on its authority and whether it should have to follow the open meeting law.

Other topics included the proposed minimum wage hike and concerns with silica sand mining.