ST. PAUL, Minn. – Shortly after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued a press release declaring October “Cybersecurity Awareness Month,” Senate Republicans offered a sharp rebuke of the governor reminding him that he cut funding for cybersecurity during budget negotiations.
Dayton’s press release Tuesday stated that he had proposed $27 million in investments as part of a broader package to enhance Minnesota’s cybersecurity team. This would have taken the shape of additional staff, tools, and other services for combating malicious attacks. The press release stated that none of the $27 million was funded by the state legislature, of which both chambers are currently controlled by Republicans.
“Strong cybersecurity is critical to protect our citizens, our businesses, and our governments from online attacks,” Dayton said. “I am proud that Minnesota has been a leader in cybersecurity, but we must do more. As those threats increase in volume and sophistication, we must invest in upgrades, technology, and talent to keep Minnesotans safe and secure online.”
However his words rang a little hollow to the ears of legislative Republicans. Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) issued a press release by way of the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus rebuking Dayton for forgetting that it was his own preference to do away with cybersecurity funding, and not the fault of the legislature.
“When it came time to negotiate, the first thing Governor Dayton chose to cut from his proposed budget was the funding for increased cyber security,” Anderson said in the press release. “The Governor cannot say cybersecurity is a top priority but refuse to fund it when the Legislature offers to help. Governor Dayton chose bureaucracy over protecting Minnesotans.”
Kiffmeyer and Anderson accused Dayton of putting the money towards increased spending on public employees instead. Kiffmeyer called these employees Dayton’s “favorite special interest.”
“Republicans in the legislature remain committed to keeping Minnesotans’ private data safe and preparing our state for the challenges we know are imminent regarding cyber security,” Kiffmeyer said. “We hope the next governor puts their money where their mouth is.”