Minnesota Government Shuts Down

Posted: July 1, 2011 in US News

AMY MERRICK
The Wall Street Journal
July 1, 2011

Minnesota encountered its second government shutdown in six years on Friday as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on closing the state’s $5 billion budget gap.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Iowa averted a shutdown Thursday, and several other states waited for governors to finalize their budgets.

Without a two-year budget agreement in place, state parks and the Minnesota Zoo will be shut for the July 4 holiday weekend, nonemergency road construction will halt and thousands of state workers will be furloughed.

Government functions deemed critical by a county judge on Wednesday will keep operating, including the state patrol, prisons and the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor. Courts will stay open, and welfare and food-stamp payments will continue.

Republican leaders met with Mr. Dayton several times Thursday, but both sides gave few details about the talks.

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, a Republican, said late Thursday that the state’s health and human-services budget was a sticking point in the negotiations.

Ms. Koch was interrupted several times by protestors in the Capitol chanting, “Tax the rich!”

Republican lawmakers had suggested approving a short-term budget to keep the government running, but Mr. Dayton had said he wasn’t interested.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Dayton didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

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