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Dayton, Zellers downplay stadium discussion

Don Davis Governor-elect Mark Dayton, Lt. Gov.-elect Yvonne Prettner Solon and House speaker-designate Kurt Zellers face reporters Tuesday following their first meeting since they were elected last month.

ST. PAUL - Governor-elect Mark Dayton appears ready to support a new Vikings stadium, under certain circumstances and if someone else draws up the plan, but House Republicans are not enthusiastic about it.

Dayton met with House speaker-designate Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, Tuesday and they emerged from the meeting downplaying any stadium talk.

"We were focused a lot more on jobs and the economy," Zellers said. "It is further down the agenda."

Senate Republican leaders said something similar after they met with Dayton last week.

Dayton said that stadium talk will wait until he and the new Republican-controlled Legislature are sworn in two weeks from now.

Before the Vikings lost to the Chicago Bears Monday night, Dayton made his strongest comment yet in support of the stadium. However, he said he would not support one funded by state General Fund dollars, money that goes to education, health care, public safety and other fundamental state duties.

Dayton hinted he might back raising taxes on sport-related items such as jerseys and souvenirs. On Tuesday, he said that he would not draw up a plan and he would not say who needed to give him a stadium-funding proposal.

Zellers tried to avoid getting involved in a stadium discussion, although reporters kept hamming him with questions.

"We have to have an idea first about what the proposal is," he demurred.

Zellers repeated that voters are more interested in things other than a stadium.

"A vast majority of Minnesotans want to make sure their jobs are safe," the speaker-to-be said.

Lieutenant Governor-elect Yvonne Prettner Solon, who will be legislative liaison for the Dayton administration, said regular meetings with Republican legislative leaders are in the offing.

However, she told reporters, there may be little news at first: "You guys are going to have some slow media days for a while."

The Legislature's main job when it convenes January 4 is to write a new two-year budget, expected to top $30 billion, while plugging a $6.2 billion deficit.

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.