Governor Dayton spoke to the Minnesota Nurses during their Day on the Hill, marking the start of enrollment in an expanded Medicaid program that provides health coverage for thousands of Minnesotans.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton couldn't guide state legislators into a budget compromise. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Mark Dayton/Flickr)

For the second time in six years, Minnesota’s government has shut down, reports Minnesota Public Radio. After six months of failed negotiations, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and GOP legislative leaders’ inability to reach a budget compromise by midnight has put over 20,000 state employees out of work, effective Friday. State parks and other services are also unavailable.

Failure to bridge the tax divide

By 10 p.m. Thursday, Dayton admitted that there would be no bi-partisan compromise on the key issue involved in Minnesota budget talks: taxes. Dayton’s income tax plan for top earners would have applied to those people with annual incomes of $1 million or more. By the governor’s estimate, the tax would have affected less than 8,000 people and been a much better option than the health care, education and transit cuts state GOP leaders proposed.

“I cannot accept a Minnesota where people with disabilities lose part of the time they are cared for by personal care attendants so that millionaires don’t have to pay $1 more in taxes,” he said. “I cannot accept a Minnesota where young people cannot afford the rising tuition at the University of Minnesota or a MnSCU campus so that millionaires do not have to pay $1 more in taxes.”

Republicans stand behind responsible spending

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch told MPR that state Republicans don’t agree with the Democratic state budget proposal because it doesn’t do enough to curb spending.

“This state government budget grows at six percent,” Koch said. “For a lot of folks behind me, that was too much money, but they were willing to come forward and compromise. But it wasn’t about that for the governor. It was about continued spending for him.”

Minnesota faces a $5 billion budget deficit that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle aim to erase within two years. The gap between the Democratic and Republican budgets is currently $1.7 billion. As the GOP is currently the majority party in Minnesota, numerous party representatives are concerned as to how they’ll be perceived by the voting public come the next election day.

Minnesota closures abound

The Minnesota government shutdown comes at an inopportune time, considering the July 4 holiday. State parks, historical sites, the Minnesota Zoo and hunting/fishing license issuers are closed, according to the New York Times. No new road construction will b The state lottery, racetracks and 84 major highway rest stops are also temporarily out of commission.

Minnesota government shuts down

Sources

MPR News: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/07/01/shutdown-negotiation-finger-pointing/

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/01/us/01minnesota.html?_r=2&hp

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