It's been a week since Minnesota lawmakers left the Capitol, after finishing work on a state budget that wasn't completed until a special session and a partial government shutdown. We take a look behind the scenes at how the budget stalemate came, and was resolved, by the state's three top political leaders.
State leaders said Friday they were on the brink
of ending Minnesota's unprecedented partial government shutdown, as a marathon negotiating session between Gov. Tim Pawlenty and top lawmakers stretched on into Friday afternoon. Both sides said an agreement was very close, but some DFL lawmakers have reservations about the details.
Talks resumed Thursday to end the state's
week-old government shutdown, even as a key Republican dealt a blow
to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's effort to pull casino gambling back into the
On the sixth day of a partial state government shutdown, several hundred state workers rallied at the Capitol Wednesday asking for their jobs back. Legislative leaders are talking hopefully about resolving the budget stalemate over the next day or so.
A partial state government shutdown entered its fifth day on Tuesday, with no sign of an immediate resolution. Minnesota lawmakers returned to the Capitol after hearing from their constituents over the 4th of July weekend. Some say voters are mad at the Legislature, and may blame all state leaders.
Campsites and parks would remain open and some 4,000 state
workers facing layoffs would be safe under the agreement. But the rest of the state is heading toward a shutdown
State officials continue to plan for a partial government shutdown on Friday as legislative leaders continue budget negotiations. Gov. Pawlenty and legislative leaders met late into the night at the governor's residence in St. Paul with the hopes that they could hammer out a budget deal. But the two sides still remain far apart on several key budget items.
There's been a lot of talk about the possible state government shutdown that could happen on July 1. One issue you may not have heard about involves a multi-million dollar fund designed to pay pensions to retired Minneapolis teachers. The pension fund is in serious financial trouble, and lawmakers disagree over how to fix it and even what caused the problem.
A Ramsey County judge on Thursday ordered state officials to fund essential state services if there's a partial government shutdown at the end of the month. If there's any dispute over which services are essential, they will be mediated by former Supreme Court Justice Edward Stringer.
Democrats said Thursday they would accept a
portion of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed cigarette charge as long as
the proceeds go to subsidized health care programs.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's "health impact fee" appears to have landed with a dull thud at the Capitol. It isn't just his political foes who have criticized it, but some usual allies as well.And it's apparently done little to break the budget stalemate; negotiators appear no closer to reaching a deal.
Attorney General Mike Hatch has taken another step toward running for governor in 2006. Hatch sent a fundraising letter to DFL contributors, asking them to help him finance a gubernatorial campaign. While the election is still a year and a half away, Hatch isn't the only Democrat considering the governor's race.
The 2005 legislative session has ended, and the special session has begun. Lawmakers failed to reach agreement on several major spending bills before the constitutional deadline to adjourn. Gov. Pawlenty called them back into session immediately, despite the lack of a budget deal.
Gov. Pawlenty is proposing the state collect an additional 75 cents a pack on cigarettes. He's calling the new money a "health impact fee," and says the money would be used to pay for state health-care costs. Pawlenty insists his proposal is a fee, not a tax. The distinction is critical because a budget deal could hinge on Pawlenty's ability to come away from negotiations saying he's standing by his pledge to not raise taxes.
The Minnesota Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would overhaul the state's child support guidelines for the first time in two decades. The guidelines affect about 300,000 children in the state. The House could pass a similar measure this week. And although it contains some differences from the Senate version, the sponsors of the two bills say they think they can find common ground before the Legislature adjourns next week.