Minnesota Awaits Possible Government Shutdown

By: - May 26, 2011 12:00 am

Minnesota lawmakers and Governor Mark Dayton have more than a month to agree on a state budget for the next two years, but the two sides are so far apart that state government is getting ready for a shutdown come July 1.

Dayton, a Democrat, angrily vetoed the Republican Legislature’s budget on Wednesday (May 25). He laid the blame for the impasse at the feet of “right-wing caucus members” who, he said, “understand little about government and care even less,” The Associated Press reported .

Republicans, meanwhile, are touring the state and trying to build popular support for their budget, which does not contain the tax increases that Dayton is seeking, and which he campaigned on last year. “His prescription for economic recession and state budget deficits is more taxes and more spending, and Minnesotans cannot afford that,” Geoff Michel, a GOP floor leader, told the AP.

With little sign of the standoff being resolved anytime soon, Dayton met with his Cabinet on Wednesday and ordered agencies to prepare for a¬†shutdown , The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported . The paper detailed what a shutdown could look like: “Paychecks would stop for tens of thousands of state workers, but many more Minnesotans would not escape pain: closed state parks, mothballed road repair projects, locked highway rest stops (and) halted processing of everything from new business permits to driver’s licenses.”

A government shutdown would be just the second in Minnesota history. An eight-day partial shutdown followed a standoff between then-Republican governor Tim Pawlenty and a split Legislature in 2005.

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