June 30, 2005Deadline day
As unbelievable as it once seemed, just one year after the Legislature was roundly criticized for doing nothing, the state is now on the verge of a partial government shutdown. The cause of the shutdown? A relatively small $466 million shortfall on a $30 billion budget. Both sides are accusing the other of forcing the shutdown for political purposes. It's hard to believe anyone involved would be dumb enough to do that, because there aren't going to be any political winners out of this situation. One can only imagine the main negotiators will make things even worse for themselves as they try to blame each other for the shutdown.
The only bright spot seems to be that state parks may survive the shutdown. MPR's Laura McCallum has the latest from last night's negotiations:
Legislative leaders emerged from the governor's residence to report good news and bad news. First, the good news.
You see, that blame thing is already underway. Yesterday DFLers were saying Gov. Pawlenty was putting too many conditions on his proposal to increase cigarette taxes. And that parks bill could still be derailed by concerns over ATV use.
And for the first time since Sunday Gov. Pawlenty talked to reporters Wednesday. As noted in the Pioneer Press he said for the first time that he might support a "lights on" bill to extend the budget deadline:
He said he would agree to a temporary "continuing resolution" to keep government operating for a few days if he and legislative leaders have the "outline of a deal" by midnight today. "That's probably the best we can hope for," he said.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers gathered Wednesday evening to call for their own compromise solution. They included many veteran legislators and some in their first term.
About 20 legislators are behind that fix. It's unclear how they would get it done, but it seems like a good time for a revolution at the Capitol.Posted by Mike Mulcahy at 6:35 AM