Be careful what you wish for, the old saying goes.
Mark Dayton took the oath of office as Minnesota's governor at noon, the first Democrat to hold that office in decades.[jump]
The new Legislature, now controlled by Republicans for the first time in many people's living memory -- 40 years -- will be sworn in the next day.
Dayton won office in part by pledging to tax the rich. The Republicans took over by promising to cut taxes, along with the size and scope of government.
Both claim the people's mandate. Together they face a state budget deficit of $6.2 billion, a 7.1 percent unemployment rate, and very different philosophies about how to cope with both.
Dayton will kick things off on Wednesday by fulfilling a campaign pledge, signing an executive order that expands the state's Medicaid program. It will give roughly 95,000 Minnesotans access to new or better health care under the federal health reform law, save jobs in the health care industry, and bring $1.2 billion in federal funding to Minnesota.
Meantime, the man who refused to sign that order, and who governed the state into this gaping hole in the budget, Tim Pawlenty, is off considering a run for the White House. To hear him tell it, Minnesota's never been better off.
Dayton and Lt. Governor-elect Yvonne Prettner Solon started the day by distributing breakfast to students at Wellstone Elementary School in Saint Paul. The Inaugural Ceremony and Oath of Office took place at noon in St. Paul's Landmark Center, with about 500 attendees. There's an open house at the State Capitol from 2:00 - 4:30 p.m., and the inaugural ball takes place Saturday evening.
Update: Excerpts from Dayton's speech:
The past decade has left our country, our state, and many of our citizens worse off than before, with lower standards of living, larger debts and deficits, and less assured of future success. The stakes now are high.
To those who sincerely believe the state budget can be balanced with no tax increase - including no forced property tax increase - I say, if you can do so without destroying our schools, hospitals, and public safety, please send me your bill, so I can sign it immediately.
I am asking every business in Minnesota to adopt a school. And contribute to its improvement. To visit the school and see its realities. To meet with teachers, students, and administrators and find out what they need to improve their school - now your school.
I ask every adult Minnesotan, who is physically able, to volunteer a part of one day, every month, at a school, hospital, or social service agency, as I did this morning at the Wellstone Elementary School and will continue to do as Governor and thereafter.