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Capitol takes Dayton budget delay comment seriously

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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday morning that he was considering delaying releasing his budget because of recent back surgery, then said it was all a joke.

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"I just wanted to see if anyone reads this stuff!" the governor wrote on Facebook not long after news of the potential delay spread around the Capitol.

The original Facebook post created a stir in the Capitol as lawmakers, lobbyists and nearly everyone else is awaiting next week's budget release so work can begin on the main job of this legislative session, writing a two-year budget to begin July 1.

"If it goes well, I'll be 'back' on a public schedule, starting Tuesday, January 22nd, when I'll present my proposed budget for the next biennium, as required by state law," Dayton wrote on Facebook. "If not, I'll invoke the obscure clause in the Minnesota Constitution, which allows me a one-time, two-month extension."

But after his office was asked for more information, a new Dayton post appeared: "My previous post was serious about my recovery, and trying to be humorous about delaying my budget proposal. There is no postponement being sought."

To his line about wondering if anyone reads his Facebook posts, dozens of people responded within minutes, many saying they do follow him.

"Thanks for the clarification," Makeda Norris wrote, followed by a smiley face.

Jan. 22 is the deadline for Dayton to deliver his proposal for the two-year budget that begins July 1.

In a meeting with five Democratic legislative leaders before his first post, Dayton joked that he could delay his budget plan, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said.

Bakk said Dayton appeared to be recovering fine, and was walking better than he did before the surgery. "He looks good."

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