Democrats in the Minnesota House are marking the anniversary of last summer's state government shutdown with a warning that it could happen again.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, blamed majority Republicans for causing the 20-day shutdown by refusing to compromise with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on the budget. Dayton wanted an income tax increase on top earners, and GOP leaders didn't. During a news conference today, Thissen said Democrats would avoid another shutdown and offer better priorities if they win control of the House in November. He said taxes would be on the table.
"That's coming up with a tax system that's fairer and more simple," Thissen said. "If that includes tax increases on some and tax decreases on others, like reducing property taxes, that's something I think we need to have a discussion about."
House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said he's convinced Minnesotans believe that holding the line on taxes last year was the right decision. Dean also questioned the DFL campaign strategy.
"When I hear Rep. Thissen out saying that there's not enough bipartisanship, and the way to solve that is to get rid of Republicans, I think the average guy is going to shake his head and say that sounds like more politics as usual," Dean said.(2 Comments)
The Minnesota Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican lawmakers over last summer's state government shutdown.
The legislators, including Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, were challenging the constitutionality of court-ordered spending on functions and services that a Ramsey County judge had deemed essential. The shutdown lasted 20 days before lawmakers passed a budget solution in a special session. In an opinion released today, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea explained that the passage of the budget and its signing into law made the challenge moot.
"The constitutional questions posed by this case are currently moot and will not arise again unless the legislative and executive branches fail to agree on a budget to fund a future biennium," Gildea wrote on behalf of the court. "In addition, the legislative and executive branches have the ability to put mechanisms in place that would ensure that the district court is not again called upon to authorize expenditures by executive branch agencies in the absence of legislative appropriations, even is a budget impasse were to occur. Resolution of these budget issues by the other branches through the political process is preferable to our issuance of an advisory opinion adjudicating separation of powers issues that are not currently active and may not arise in the future."
Justice Alan Page dissented.
"Even if there is never another budget impasse, the authority of the district court to do what it has done in this and the previous impasses must be addressed. Indeed, the particular answers to those questions are of far less importance than the simple fact that they are answered, so the judiciary can no long be used as a pawn in the two political branches' partisan disputes," Page wrote. "Our obligation to protect the judicial branch requires it, and the integrity of the judicial branch demands it."
State finance officials say the cost of last summer's 20-day government shutdown was minimal.
"In broad terms, immediate shutdown costs were offset by estimated compensation savings," the report by Minnesota Management and Budget said.
The state agency says the state lost $50 million in things like tax collections and lottery receipts, spent $10 million on shutdown preparations and recovery costs and paid $10 million in unemployment benefits. But MMB Commissioner Jim Schowalter said the state and federal government saved about $65 million by not having to pay the 19,000 employees who were laid off during the shutdown.
"Where there was harm there was significant harm," Schowalter said. "Some places continued unaffected, others didn't continue and were completely shut down. So as a result, when you look at the impact of employees, those who continued to work were not so impacted. those who were laid off had substantial stresses and issues."
Schowalter said one reason the shutdown didn't have a bigger impact is because a judge ruled that about 80 percent of state spending had to continue during the shutdown.
The government shut down after Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders failed to agree on a two-year budget by the end of the last fiscal year. The impasse forced state workers to be laid off, parks to close and many road construction projects to be mothballed.
Gov. Dayton issued this statement on the report:
"I am grateful that the report concludes there was no net cost to Minnesota taxpayers. Unfortunately, it also shows that the worst financial hardship fell upon state employees, who were involuntarily laid off."
Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, says the Senate GOP Caucus will push law changes to prevent any future shutdowns.
"I don't think anybody wants to contemplate additional political game playing around the state budget," Hann said. "We should be able to reach agreement to say that if we have not reached a budget agreement at the end of the time we're required, we should have the existing budget or some percentage of that budget be continued," Hann said.
Hann also said Dayton should get the blame for the shutdown - suggesting it was a political tool to get his tax hike passed into law.
But Eliot Seide, who represents the state employees union American Federation of State County and Municipals Employees Council 5, issued a statement saying the Republican majorities in the Legislature are to blame:
"State employees lost $65 million in wages because a gridlock group of tea party Republicans chose to protect millionaires instead of Minnesotans. They laid off 19,000 workers instead of creating jobs. They ruined family vacations at state parks, delayed road construction and disrupted people's lives in countless ways."
"AFSCME state employees do their part every day to make Minnesota a state that works. That's a stark contrast with the tea party Republicans who created a state that didn't work for 20 days."
Here's the full shutdown report:1 Comments)
Gov. Dayton says his administration will release a report that details the cost of last summer's three-week state government shutdown that occurred over the summer.
"I believe they're finalizing it right now and I'm told I'm going to get a draft over the weekend and it will come out next week," Dayton told MPR News.
State finance officials have been detailing how much it cost the state of Minnesota to prepare for the shutdown and then close many agencies. Many state agencies were shuttered and thousands of state employees were laid-off after Dayton and the Republican controlled Legislature failed to reach agreement on a budget-balancing plan.
The two sides finalized a budget plan that relied on spending cuts, a plan to delay payments to schools and borrowing against future tobacco payments.
State finance officials announced on Thursday that they sold $757 million of tobacco bonds as a part of the budget solution. The state will end up paying more than $1.2 billion to borrow $640 million.
Minnesota Finance officials say they have sold $757 million in bonds tied to the state's future tobacco payments. Minnesota Management and Budget says it finalized the bond sale - a move that was needed to help close the state's budget gap. $640 million of the $757 million bond sale will go to fix the state's budget deficit. The remaining $117 million will go into a special account to cover the cost of issuing the bonds and creating a reserve to pay back bondholders. The bonds are backed by future payments from the state's 1998 settlement with tobacco companies. The state will eventually pay bondholders $1.2 billion over the life of the 20 year bonds.
Governor Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature used the tobacco bonds to help end a three week government shutdown. Critics of the sale say the one-time money doesn't address structural problems in the state's budget. They say only permanent tax increases and/or spending cuts will do that.
You can read more about the sale here.
According to a new poll, 42 percent of Minnesotans think Republican legislators are responsible for the government shutdown.
Of the Minnesotans surveyed, 21 percent think Gov. Mark Dayton's to blame, 22 percent think both parties are responsible and 15 percent have no opinion, according to the survey, which was conducted by MinnPost and Daves & Associates Research.
According the write-up in MinnPost, 56 percent of Republicans say Dayton's to blame for the shutdown, while 10 percent say the GOP is at fault (the rest had no opinion or pinned blame on both parties.) And 68 percent of Democrats blamed Republicans while 2 percent blamed Dayton.
What's really interesting about the poll is how self-identified independents view the shutdown. Nearly half - 46 percent - say the GOP is responsible, while only 18 percent say Dayton's to blame. And 25 percent of indepdents blamed both parties.
The poll also asked how the budget should be balanced, and most Minnesotans - 66 percent - favor a combination of cuts and tax increases, while 23 percent favor spending cuts only.
It's worth noting that the poll wasn't meant to predict how Minnesotans will vote in the next election; those polled were not screened for whether they are likely voters, according to the MinnPost story.
We've put out a request for comment from the GOP leadership, and will update the story accordingly.
Gov. Mark Dayton has signed budget bills ending the state government shutdown.
Dayton's signatures came after a special legislative session that ended early this morning. The governor said he doesn't like the way the new budget will be financed. It does not include the upper income tax increase he championed. But, Dayton said it ends the shutdown and puts state employees back to work:
"By statute, the actual flow of dollars does not begin until tomorrow morning, but the actual mechanisms of the agency heads and those who are already in the office to get things now back in gear, get the computer systems up and running and the like are underway," Dayton said.
State employees will be recalled beginning at 6 a.m. tomorrow. All state employees are being told to report to work at their normally scheduled time. When government shut down July 1st, 22,000 state workers were laid off and state parks and rest stops were closed.
Gov. Dayton is expected to hold a signing ceremony this morning. He will sign the 12 budget and spending bills at the event, putting an end to a state government shutdown that is in its 20th day. Dayton will take the action after the Minnesota Legislature worked into the early morning hours to pass the bills. Dayton called a special session on Tuesday afternoon for them to start their work.
Democrats in both the House and Senate criticized the methods used to balance the state's budget. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders relied on a mix of spending cuts, an extended payment delay to K12 schools and borrowing against future tobacco payments to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, said he wasn't happy the state was borrowing money to fix the state's budget deficit.
"This budget, this tax bill, mocks Minnesota," Davnie said. "It takes us to places we've never gone before because we knew they were the wrong places to go. To pay ten dollars for every seven dollars we borrow. It's irresponsible spending."
Republicans, who said the budget deal isn't perfect, are focusing on the methods used to rein in government spending.
"We're going to run on this budget," GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said. "We're going to talk about erasing a $5 billion forecast deficit without raising taxes. That's a big thing."
Koch said she's optimistic that Republican lawmakers will be able to pass other measures that change how government operates when they return for the 2012 legislative session.
But they still have at least one disagreement as they end the 2011 session and it's over the size of the state's two year budget..
Republicans say they stuck to their pledge to spend only $34 billion over the next two years. The Dayton Administration says the tally is $35.7 billion. The difference depends on how you account for the shifts and borrowing.(2 Comments)
St. Paul - The Minnesota House and Senate are now grinding out the final pieces of a budget that will end a shutdown that is in its twentieth day. Both chambers are in breaking as lawmakers go through the K-12 budget bill and wait for the State Government Finance bill to be made public. Those are the last two pieces of the budget that have to be made public.
The House and Senate have passed eight budget and spending bills since Gov. Dayton called them into special session at 3pm. Debate on many of the bills has been brief. The most contentious arguments occurred when lawmakers discussed the Tax bill. Democrats complained that Republicans were relying on a "Beg, Borrow and Spend" plan to pay for the state's budget. The plan relies on spending cuts, a K-12 payment delay and borrowing against future tobacco payments to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Governor Dayton accepted the GOP proposal last week as a way to end the state government shutdown.
Democrats in both the House and Senate criticized the financing.
"Governor Dayton reluctantly took your plan," Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, told Republicans. "He took your plan on tobacco bonds. He took your plan on borrowing from our kids. You win. You didn't have to tax those millionaires. You win and Minnesotans lose."
Republicans countered that they compromised with Dayton and worked to reduce spending in areas like Health and Human Services programs. GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean criticized DFLers in the Minnesota House for not voting for a Tax bill that helps end the shutdown.
"Every red vote is a vote to continue the shutdown," Dean told the House Chamber. "We need to get Minnesota back to work. We need to stop pointing fingers."
Dayton said he intends to sign all of the budget bills at once. His spokesman said he'll likely take action on the bill midmorning. If, of course, the Legislature finishes its work by that time.
(Photo Credit: Nikki Tundel)
St. Paul -
The House and Senate acted quickly to pass the smaller sized budget bills. In two hours, the two chambers passed five budget bills: the transportation funding bill, the jobs and economic development bill, the environment budget bill, the public safety and judiciary bill and the higher education budget bill. Those bills are all on their way to Governor Dayton's desk.
Most of the bills passed with relative ease and with limited debate. The biggest question mark was whether the Senate would vote to pass the higher education bill. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a group that lobbies against legalized abortion, has criticized GOP leaders in the House and Senate for removing a provision that would ban human cloning. MCCL's executive director Scott Fischbach is married to Senate President Michelle Fischbach, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee and carried the higher ed bill, said she was disappointed the provision was removed from the bill.
"It was already in session law for the last two years so now we have removed that," Fischbach said. "I think that was legislation that we should have kept in this bill in order to protect that and use state funds wisely."
Fischbach ended up voting against her own bill, as did
several other Republican members. GOP Sen. Ray Vandeveer.
While the House and Senate worked at rapid speed in the first half of the evening, there's no certainty that pace will continue. The larger budget bills; health and human services, K-12, state government finance and taxes have yet to be debated. The tax bill includes a controversial measure that borrows $700 million against future tobacco payments. The K12 bill includes a $2.1 billion school shift.
Democrats have been highly critical of the financing of the budget regardless of Gov. Dayton's support. Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, says said the budget plan was irresponsible.
"We need to be honest," Hornstein said. "It's the first of nine budget bills that simply defers important budget decisions into the future. Now is the time to address these issues, not procrastinate and not put them off into the future.
Dayton says he intends to sign the budget bills all at once after the Legislature sends them to him. The shutdown will end after he signs the bill into law.
Meanwhile, Dayton's administration is preparing to restart government services that have been shuttered for 19 days. Dayton's chief of staff Tina Smith and Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter say it could take a few weeks before government services are operating at the level prior to state government shutdown on July 1.
"We will bring two values to this," Smith said. "One is urgency and the other is common sense."
Neither Smith nor Schowalter could say when state parks, transportation projects, Canterbury Park Horse Track and other services will be up and running again.
"Just because the bill is passed or you see it on your TV that does not mean that agency is up and running," Schowalter said.
Schowalter said it takes about a day for appropriations to be directed one day after Dayton signs the budget bills into law.
He said they will announce on their website what the recall plans are for the 22,000 state employees who have been laid off. Here's the link.
Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis) sits in the Senate chamber during a 1am recess on July 20, 2011 Photo Credit: Nikki Tundel
The K-12 budget bill hasn't been made public yet, but the author of the bill is starting to discuss specifics.
House K-12 Finance Chair Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, says the bill makes some needed changes that he argues will improve the state's schools. Garofalo said the state will start linking effectiveness to student achievement. He said teachers will start to be judged on student performance, rural schools will see more money and students will start receiving $5,000 scholarships from the state if they graduate early.
"I think moms and dads are really going to like that," Garofalo said of the scholarship. "They'll encourage little Johnny and little Jane to try a little bit harder and get that job done in school..
The bill also ends the integration funding formula, a fund that helps inner-city schools. The funding will end at the end of the next fiscal year. Garofalo said the program is flawed and he expects to work with administrators and teachers to come up with a different program.
Garofalo also said the bill directs more money to rural schools. He also said there will be more money for special education funding and an increase in the per pupil formula.
There are also scholarships for early childhood education, which Garofalo said will give lower income parents more options when it comes to daycare and other early childhood programs.
I'll post more when the bill is made public...
The tax bill hasn't been posted yet but the House Tax Committee chair is sharing some information about the bill. Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, says the measure will keep funding for state aid to cities, known as local government aid, at 2010 levels. That's similar to the Senate bill that passed in the regular session and less money than Gov. Dayton had proposed in his budget.
Davids also says cities of the 1st class, including Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth, will continue to receive funding. The House pushed to remove funding for those three cities, but Davids says Gov. Dayton objected.
"I'm a big believer in local government aids," Davids said. "That was a struggle because some of the folks in our caucus aren't real big on local government aid for whatever reason. The governor wanted more. I took everything I could get and that's what we put in there."
Davids also says there are tax cuts in the bill. Renters will get a credit for property taxes, there will be direct property tax relief for homeowners and data storage centers will be allowed to exempt sales taxes for energy usage, software and computer equipment. Gov. Dayton and Davids hope that the tax break attracts large data storage companies to Minnesota. The idea is that the state's cold weather will help keep those computer servers cool.
Davids also said the federal income tax will be factored into future tax incidence studies - a major victory for Republicans who complained that those studies didn't factor in the amount of money top earners were paying in taxes.
The mechanism that will allow the state to borrow against future tobacco payments will also be in the bill. Davids says he expects criticism, but he said the votes should be there since it's a lynchpin to the agreement between Dayton and GOP legislative leaders.
"Overall, this is the bill that gets us out of town in good order," Davids said.
MPR's Alex Friedrich also posted this synopsis:
·Total General Fund (Gross): $2.87 billion
· How it compares to current fund: 4.9 percent less
· Tobacco bonds: Included in bill. These allow the state to borrow against future tobacco payments. They are the controversial GOP-backed item that was a cornerstone of the framework agreement.
· Local Government Aid: Restored to 2010 levels for largest cities. - similar to Senate bill but less than governor's proposal. The House had pushed to remove funding for Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. But LGA for all three remains at 2010 levels.
· Renters' credits: Will be reduced in future budget years. The credit for property taxes: 19 percent for FY2012, permanently reduced to 17 percent beginning FY2013.
· Property tax: Expands the homeowner property tax refund program. Increases the maximum refund from $2,410 to $2,460. Expands the income range at which the maximum applies. Decreases copayment percentage for most participants.
· High-tech tax breaks: Data storage centers can exempt sales taxes for energy usage, software and computer equipment - a tax break designed to attract large data storage companies to the state.
· Estate tax: Allows the exclusion of qualified small-business properties and farm properties - whose combined value does not exceed $4 million -- from calculation of Minnesota estate tax
· Federal income tax: Will be included in future tax-incidence studies - a major GOP victory. Republicans had said such studies didn't consider the amount of money that wealthy residents were paying in taxes.
· Political Contribution Refund Program: Suspended for two years.
· Counties to fund Maintenance of Efforts at 90 percent of current levels.
Governor Dayton announced just moments ago that he's calling a special session for 3pm today.
The Legislature will act quickly to take up nine budget bills and a bonding bill. The state government shutdown will end as soon as Gov. Dayton signs the bills into law.
"We worked very hard literally around the clock for the last four days and nights," Dayton said.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers says lawmakers will work as quickly as possible to get the budget bills passed.
"I would say it's better to get people back to work than talk about a bill," Zellers said.
Dayton said he's hopeful some agencies can start operating by tomorrow.
"I'll sign them all as they come through," Dayton said, "Minnesota will be officially lights on."
Dayton and the Republican controlled Legislature have been at odds over the best way to craft a two year budget. They reached agreement last week to erase a $5 billion budget deficit by using a mix of spending cuts, a payment delay to schools and borrowing against future tobacco payments and spending cuts.
The budget deal would end the longest government shutdown in state history.(7 Comments)
Several people tell MPR News that there is a handshake agreement on all of the budget bills. The language now has to be drafted in bill form and get final agreement from Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders. No word on how long that will take but remember that the Health and Human Services budget bill and the K-12 funding bill often run hundreds of pages.
There is a possibility that Gov. Dayton could call a special session as early as today. Expect the House and Senate to kick it into overdrive and work around the clock until all of the budget bills have been passed into law.
House and Senate leaders will make motions to suspend the rules and take up the bills right away. Democrats, who have been mostly shut out of negotiations, have been critical of the budget framework but are likely to put up the votes necessary to keep the session moving. No one wants to look like they're holding up the bills when 22,000 state employees are off the job.
Do Republicans have the votes to pass the budget? Several GOP first-term members have argued that they won't spend "a penny more" on the budget. Many are taking a wait-and-see approach to the budget.
What cost savings measures are in the bill? Several members, including Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, say they'll be inclined to vote for the bills if there are measures that will slow the rate of growth in the Health and Human Services and State Government budgets bills. No word on what those changes look like.
Will MCCL crash the deal? Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life says it has deep concerns that GOP leaders, particularly Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, agreed to remove abortion language in the budget bills. Dayton wanted controversial policy provisions removed from the budget bills. MCCL's Scott Fischbach, who is married to Senate President Michelle Fischbach, has been highly critical of the decision and has criticized GOP leadership for the move. Will he influence enough Republicans to scuttle the deal?
How long will it take for government to re-open? Many of the budget bills say they take effect "one day after final enactment." That means state departments and state agencies can start work again one day after Dayton signs the bills into law. Some services won't be up and running right away though. State workers will get three days notice to return to work.
With MPR's Alex Friedrich:
The husband of Minnesota Senate President Michelle Fischbach is asking his organization's constituents to pressure legislators to reinstate one or more pro-life measures stripped by Gov. Mark Dayton as a condition of the budgetary framework agreement reached last week.
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a group opposed to legalized abortion, sent out an action alert urging its members to contact lawmakers about the budget bill. Scott Fischbach is the executive director of the organization. The group issued an e-mail blast to thousands of supporters criticizing the budget deal and urging supporters to reinstate the cloning ban in the Higher Education bill.
Allowing the budget deal to go forward, the alert states, "means that an existing prohibition on taxpayer funding of human cloning would not continue, and for the first time since Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers would lose an existing pro-life state policy. ... In 2009, pro-lifers across the state worked tirelessly and were successful in implementing a two-year ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning. This year, if the Legislature doesn't reauthorize the ban, taxpayers will be forced to pay for cloning."
It also warned that "protecting pain-capable unborn children" and ending taxpayer funding of abortion were off the table.
MCCL's criticism of the GOP controlled Legislature is interesting since many Republican members are in line with the organization's efforts to put added restrictions on legalized abortion. But it's also intriguing since Fischbach is married to Senate President Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville). Sen. Fischbach chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee and is chief author of the Senate's Higher Education budget bill.
So would Scott Fischbach scuttle a deal that his wife, as a GOP leader, would normally have to back?
"We just want to hang on to the current law that we have," he said. "We want to urge (legislators) to keep the ban on taxpayer-funded cloning."
And what does Michelle Fischbach have to say about this? Does she support him? And would she still introduce the new higher-education bill - stripped of abortion and cloning policy -- despite MCCL's effort against it?
The MCCL chief wouldn't say, when reached by cell phone.
"You'll have to ask her," he said. "We don't come home at night and start talking at this bill and that bill. She does her thing and I do mine. "
Dayton stripped, among others, the anti-cloning and taxpayer-funding-of-abortions elements from the budgeting bill, calling them policy issues that did not belong in a financial bill. His plea to remove all policy provisions from the legislation was a major factor in reaching a budget deal last week.
But Scott Fischbach said that's just "spin." Those elements do indeed involve taxpayer dollars and so belong in a budget bill.
Yet when reminded that his wife is a Republican leader, he said, "No ... she was not part of that negotiation (for a framework agreement) ... at all."
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (R-Buffalo), he said, was responsible for taking the pro-life elements off the table.
"She agreed with the governor to get rid of all the social issues," he said.
And a lot of Republicans, he said, "don't like this plan."
Dayton and lawmakers are working out the final details of the budget. The governor is expected to call a special session once the two sides agree to the wording in all nine budget bills.
Michelle Fischbach was in caucus and not immediately available to comment.
(Chris Van Guilder, communications specialist for the Senate Republican caucus, said he would relay a message.)
Gov. Dayton ordered that the Minnesota State Capitol be opened to the public tomorrow morning at 9am. The announcement came from a news release issued by Dayton's office. It said he was opening the Capitol doors "to allow public access and transparency as the Legislature prepares to reconvene to pass a budget."
Dayton and GOP legislative leaders have been heavily criticized by lobbyists, Common Cause MN and others for negotiating a budget deal behind closed doors. Most, if not all, of the budget negotiations has occurred when the State Capitol was locked to the public. The Capitol was locked after the state government shutdown started on July 1.
Dayton's staff, his staff and agency heads, state lawmakers and staff and members of the Capitol Press Corps were given access to the building. No one else was allowed inside.
Governor Dayton is expected to call a special session in the coming days so the Legislature can pass a budget and end a state government shutdown that is in its third week.
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders continue to iron out their differences on the budget. Two of the budget bills have been posted (Public Safety/Judiciary and Transportation). Several other bills, including Environment and Higher Education could be posted as early as tonight. Health and Human Services, State Government and Jobs and Economic Development are also being processed and waiting for final review. Taxes, K12 and Bonding are still being negotiated.
Meanwhile, the Capitol is literally under a lot of stress. Staffers spent part of the day on Monday covering desks, the podium and other furniture because condensation is forming on the ceiling and the lights in the chamber. The conditions were caused by the extreme temperatures and humidity in the Twin Cities.
The first details of the budget agreement between Governor Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are starting to emerge.
Dayton and GOP legislative leaders have signed off on two budget bills - the transportation funding bill and the public safety and judiciary finance bill. Both of those bills and the spreadsheets are posted online here. Both Dayton and GOP leaders are still working on the details of seven other budget bills.
The two bills make some cuts and rely on one-time money. The Metropolitan Council faces a $51 million cut for transit programs which is less than half of what Republicans were proposing. The Met Council is expected to absorb some of those cuts by backfilling money from a five-county metro sales tax for transit programs and the Motor Vehicle Sales Tax.
The Public Safety Budget bill makes a 5 percent cut to the Department of Human Rights, makes a 6.7 percent cut to legal aid and cuts $500,000 to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. There is a five percent increase in funding for the state's public defenders.
The public safety budget bill also takes money from special accounts, like training for police officers and fire fighters, to balance the state's budget. It also requires prison inmates to pay higher health insurance co-payments.
The governor says he intends to call a special session once he and GOP legislative leaders sign off on the details on all of the budget bills. State government will remain shut down until the budget bills are signed into law.(1 Comments)
It's the 18th day of Minnesota's government shutdown. Governor Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are still working out the details of the final budget deals. Little is known about what's in the legislation. Reporters aren't allowed into the meetings. The Capitol is closed to the public so lobbyists and special interest groups are also shut out of negotiations. Governor Dayton's spokeswoman, Andrea Mokros, says the Capitol is closed because of the shutdown and is unlikely to be opened until the Legislature convenes in a special session. When asked if Dayton intended to open the State Capitol before the Legislature goes into special session, Mokros replied "At this point, No."
Meanwhile, committee chairs continue to meet with commissioners to hash out the details of a budget. Dayton and GOP leaders reached agreement on a budget framework but that agreement now has to be shaped into bill form. GOP Sen. David Hann says there is a handshake agreement on the Health and Human Services budget bill, but few details have been released. The language on that bill will be sent to the revisor. Dayton and GOP leaders will then have to sign off on the language.
There's no word on whether the bills will be made available to the public after there's official agreement on each budget bill or whether the information will be posted online after there's agreement on the entire budget.
All of the players involved continue to say they're "hard at work" and are "making progress."
Meanwhile, 22,000 state employees are still laid off, several private businesses, including Canterbury Park Horse Track and Giants Ridge Golf Course, are closed and transportation projects across Minnesota are still moth-balled.
Dayton had said he wanted to call a special session as early as today but that isn't happening and it's becoming less likely that a special session will be happen on Tuesday either.
The start of an anticipated special session to end the state governor shutdown was uncertain tonight as budget committee chairs and commissioners continued meeting on several key spending bills.
Gov. Mark Dayton said he won't call a special session until all of the bills are complete. He reached an agreement Thursday with GOP leaders on the framework of a deal. Meanwhile. Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch released a joint statement that shed little additional light on the status of the work:
"Work on the detailed budget bills continues to move in a positive direction, with an urgent focus on getting Minnesotans back to work. For the last three days, the Governor, Legislative leaders, committee chairs, commissioners and staff have worked around the clock on legislative language that reflects Thursday's agreement. Considerable progress has been made. A special session will be called as soon as our work is completed, and all bills have been reviewed and agreed upon."
Sen. Koch later confirmed that a handshake agreement had already been reached on a health and human services bill. She said some other bills had also reached that point, but she wouldn't elaborate.
"I would hope that we could get these all wrapped up and that we'd have an announcement on a special session," Koch said. "But we want to make certain of course that our members have some time to look at the bills and get briefed on that."
Koch also repeated her expectation that there are sufficient Republican votes to pass all of the budget bills.
"These bills will pass," she said.(2 Comments)
Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans legislative leaders remain tight-lipped over the ongoing, weekend budget negotiations aimed at ending the state government shutdown.
But work on at least one bill appears to be completed. Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said today that there was a handshake deal with the Dayton administration on an $11 billion bill.
Hann said the measure would spend about $1 billion more than current levels on HHS over the next two years. He said the projected spending growth in the out years was been trimmed to about 5 percent. The HHS budget received about $500 million of the $1.4 billion in new revenue that is part of the final budget agreement.
In addition, Hann said the bill includes a version of the proposal to let some MinnesotaCare recipients buy insurance from the private market. He said there are reforms in health care delivery Medical Assistance recipients that will save about $300 million.
"On balance, we did a pretty good job with the resources we had," Hann said.
Hann provided some of the first details on bills that were being assembled behind closed doors in a locked Capitol. Other committee chairs have said they would not talk until their work is done.
Governor Dayton and the Republican controlled Legislature are still working on the specifics of a budget deal they reached earlier this week. Dayton and GOP leaders are working with committee chairs and commissioners to hash out the details of nine different budget bills. The two sides reached agreement on a budget framework earlier this week; now they have to turn that into legislation. They already missed a self-imposed Friday night deadline to complete their work.
Committee chairs have been tight lipped about the details. The meetings are being held in private and the public is locked out of the Capitol. At stake is billions of dollars of spending for schools, health care and aid to cities and counties.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says lawmakers are making good progress on the bills. She said the details will be made available once the legislation is drafted into bill form. But Koch said the specifics shouldn't surprise anyone.
"We're not allowing new things into the discussion," Koch said. "We use the analogy that we're baking a cake. All of the ingredients have been on the table and been discussed for months. A lot of them have been taking bills that have been posted and vetted and we're working them into these bills."
The governor says he will call a special session once he's had a chance to read the bills and ensure they follow the agreement he reached on Thursday with GOP leaders. The government shutdown will end when Dayton signs the bills.(1 Comments)
Governor Dayton says he's inclined to call lawmakers back into a special session on Monday, but he says he wants to make sure every budget bill is wrapped up first. Dayton said his commissioners are working with committee chairs to finish up their budget work by tonight. He says he intends to read the budget bills this weekend and hopes to bring lawmakers back into special session on Monday.
"The law doesn't require any lead time so I could do it Monday morning at 9 o'clock," Dayton said. "And I won't do it until I reviewed all of the bills and believe they all fit the parameters of our agreement and also until we've agreed in writing to what's going to be involved and not in a special session. Because as you know if I call them back they leave at their discretion not mine."
Dayton and GOP legislative leaders reached a budget deal yesterday that spends an additional 35.4 billion over the two year cycle. The plan relies on an expanded payment delay to schools and borrowing against future tobacco payments. Minnesota is in the 15th day of a state government shutdown.
Dayton also appeared on MPR's Midday program today. You can listen to that here:
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch say they will deliver the votes needed to pass the budget agreement they reached with Gov. Dayton.
"We would not be uncomfortably offering up a solution if we did not have at least a good working relationship with our caucuses on what the solution would be and what it would mean to not only get the shutdown ended but get ourselves back into special session." - GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers
"We believe the caucus will ultimately support this," - GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch
But GOP leaders may have to do a little bit of arm twisting in the coming days.
MPR contacted several GOP lawmakers who said they aren't sure they'll back the bill.
Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) says she's not happy the deal extends the K12 school payment delay and borrows against future tobacco payments so she's not sure she'll back it. But she believes it's a political victory that Gov. Dayton lost his push for a tax increase to balance the budget.
"The fact that we are able to walk away without a tax increase is very huge," Franson said. "The nation is watching Minnesota. We've got issues on the federal level. Had we caved into a tax increase it would have sent a message to the entire United States."
Franson said she'll wait to see the specifics before she decides to vote for the budget plan. Several others are also taking the wait and see approach.
"I'm optimistic with reservation," Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) said as he voiced the same frustration that the deal includes borrowing and an accounting shift.
Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) declined comment until he knew more about what's in the deal. He has said he won't support a budget plan that spends $35 billion. Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Shafer) said he didn't want to comment until he knows specifics.
Some Republicans say they're inclined to support the deal.
"I don't think any side is going to get near what they wanted," Rep. Tim Sanders (R- Blaine) said. "Now we have to do what's right, get people to back to work and get that state back open again."
GOP leaders may have to rely on their party to make sure bills become law. DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said it's unlikely that his caucus will support the measure.
"It's the Republican plan. They should accept it," Thissen said. "They're the majority and they should be able to pass their own budget."
Thissen said he did think several Democrats would vote for a bonding bill. That bill needs a 3/5ths majority to become law.(4 Comments)
Dayton and GOP leaders announce a budget deal:
Dayton and GOP leaders take questions from reporters:
Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislators say they have reached a framework to end a budget impasse that led to the longest state government shutdown in recent history. The two sides agreed on a proposal that would raise $1.4 billion in new revenue. Half of that amount comes by delaying state aid checks to school districts and the other half by selling tobacco payment bonds. In return, Dayton dropped his long-standing insistence on raising taxes on top earners. In a news conference this (thursday) afternoon, Dayton said the deal does not involve a so-called 'lights on' bill.
"We're going to turn all the lights on when we get all these bills passed," Dayton said. "That's going to be in just a very few days, and so that's where our focus will be and our priority, and I've said all along that a comprehensive agreement is what I insist upon and we're going to get that done very very quickly."
Dayton's conditions included a demand that Republicans drop a list of policy changes and a plan to reduce the state workforce by 15 percent.
From MPR's Madeleine Baran:
Former Gov. Arne Carlson, a moderate Republican, is blasting Dayton's proposal to accept a GOP offer to shift more school payments and borrow against the state's future tobacco payments.
"I'm dumbfounded," Carlson told MPR's Kerri Miller.
"For eight years we have been taking from the future to pay for today under the guise that we shouldn't increase taxes. ... The idea that we can go for an other two years by borrowing from tomorrow I think is the worst possible course this state can take," he said.
Carlson said the plan not only delays the problem, but also makes it worse. The deficit will go up and rating agencies will downgrade the state's credit while the political debate continues, he said.
"We have borrowed too much," he said.
Carlson said the tobacco settlement money from 2003 is supposed to go toward medical research and health care for the poor.
Carlson rejected the idea that Dayton must do something to end the shutdown, which has resulted in some 22,000 state workers being laid off.
"I believe that one of the signs of good leadership is good financial planning and I think this represents some of the very worst," he said, adding that the state will find itself in a worse financial situation two years from now.
"It's hard to look at this package and say this represents the best interests of constituents. It does not," he said.(10 Comments)
Governor Mark Dayton said today that he'll agree to an offer submitted by Republicans on June 30. The plan would extend the K12 school shift by $700 million and borrows $700 million against future tobacco borrowing.
"I am willing to agree to something that I don't agree with," Dayton said.
There are some conditions. Among other things, he wants the GOP to drop all policy language in their bills, their proposed 15 percent across the board cut in the public employee cut workforce and he wants a bonding bill.
Dayton made the announcement Thursday to a group of public policy fellows at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Dayton said he can't say whether the offer is still on the table.
"As far as I'm concerned it's still on the table. If it's not, I'll put it on there right now."
Dayton spent a large part of the week touting this budget plan. He discussed special education in St. Cloud, health care in Rochester and economic development in Albert Lea.
His PR blitz is meant to show that the state needs more revenue to plug the state's budget gap. He argues the GOP based budget would have dramatic problems for programs and services across Minnesota. Before the speech at the U of M started, Dayton's aides handed out literature that pointed out that many states have raised taxes and cut programs since 2003. The move appears to be a move to show that Republicans are unwilling to move on new revenue and will own the budget plan they've proposed.
Dayton is at odds with the GOP controlled Legislature over the best way to erase the state's $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton has said he prefers to raise the income tax on Minnesotans who earn $1 million or more a year but is open to other options like raising taxes on cigarettes or alcohol.
Republican leaders have not made a new budget offer since the state shutdown started on July 1. GOP legislative leaders have argued that they can erase the state's budget deficit through spending cuts. Several rank and file members are starting to break from that position, arguing that more revenue is needed to end the shutdown. It's the 14th day of the shutdown and Dayton and GOP leaders have no meetings scheduled. It's been one week since the two sides have held face to face talks.
Dayton and GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers will be face to face tonight. The two will appear live on KARE11 at 10pm to take questions on the budget and the state government shutdown.
Update: Republicans aren't saying whether they'll accept the offer.
"Senate leadership is reviewing the offer," Senate GOP spokesman Michael Brodkorb said via e-mail. "No further comment.
Here's the first part of his speech: Listen
Here's Dayton's letter:15 Comments)
From Tom Scheck:
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton held a forum in St. Cloud today to make the case to the public that his budget battle with GOP legislative leaders has a wide- ranging impact on the state. The focus of the forum, held at a high school in St. Cloud, was special education funding.
More than 100 people attended the event and cheered when speakers called for higher taxes to help erase the state's $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton said his plan would help protect special education funding.
"This is a reminder at what's at stake for children with special needs--129,000 school children around Minnesota who have a need for special education and would experience cuts under the Republican budget proposal. That's why Commissioner Cassellius and I are here today," he said. "It's certainly affirming to hear from those who are making due with even less money already."
Six St. Cloud-area Republican lawmakers said they do not support additional revenue to balance the budget.
Rep.King Banaian, R-St. Cloud, said he won't support new taxes to plug the budget gap.
"I do not believe we need new revenues. We have the most revenues that we have ever had in a state budget from state sources," he said. " We do not need additional revenues in this budget."
Dayton is holding forums around the state as the the state government shutdown continues. He'll be in southeastern Minnesota Wednesday.
They made their case today during a State Capitol news conference, and used six empty chairs to symbolize the help they would need from the other side to pass legislation. House DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen said private conversations are already underway with some GOP legislators, but he wouldn't name them. Thissen said it's time for some courageous Republicans to step forward and do what's best for Minnesota.
"All it takes is six courageous leaders to buck the Republican party line and listen to the vast majoriity of Minnesotans who want to cut the state budget and want to raise fair revenues to fill our historic budget gap," Thissen said.
Republican leaders have said they still would not be willing to bring a vote to the floor on tax increases. But Thissen said he thinks six defections would increase public pressure for action.(3 Comments)
DFL Gov.Mark Dayton traveled to St. Cloud today to talk about the budget impasse and state government shutdown, but he didn't take Republican legislative leaders along for the ride.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said she called Dayton this morning to suggest that she and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, participate in the event as well as others the governor has scheduled this week. She also suggested riding in the same car. The request didn't fly, but Koch said she thought it could have been productive.
"I thought, well, we have to keep talking, and this would be a way to engage the public. The governor is going out across the state, and it would be a way to sort of present both sides to the public. And then, I thought if we rode together, nothing more Minnesotan in the summer than a road trip. We could continue budget negotiations in the car."
Dayton's press secretary said the governor told Koch that he would prefer the GOP leaders spend their time working on a counter-proposal to the budget offers he has made. Dayton also said he would be available to meet with Republican leaders when he returned from St. Cloud.
Two of the state's public employee unions are establishing a safety net for the 22,000 state workers who are laid off because of the state government shutdown.
AFSCME Council 5 has established food shelves across the state to help laid off state workers during the shutdown. Eliot Seide, with AFSCME Council 5, says his union is establishing food drives so laid off workers have options after their last partial paycheck on Friday.
"The only thing they'll be eligible for is unemployment insurance which is up to half of their gross pay," Seide said. "That's not a lot of money. Our people make on average of $38,000 a year living paycheck to paycheck, so there's likely to be tough times ahead."
Seide and other union leaders say they continue to back Democratic Governor Mark Dayton in the budget impasse because they say the Republican budget plan cuts a larger portion of the state's workforce and changes Minnesota's collective bargaining rules. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are at odds over the best way to erase a $5 billion budget deficit.
Jim Monroe with the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees says his union has reached agreement with a local credit union so unemployed workers can get loans to help make ends meet. He said MAPE also established hardship grants for those workers who can't receive loans from the credit union.
"For people who are laid off, they aren't on vacation," Monroe said. "Their only income in a very quick period of time is unemployment insurance. If they can't get loans, this is to help them bridge the gap that they may have."
Workers will be eligible to start claiming unemployment next Monday. The shutdown occurred because Governor Dayton and GOP legislative leaders failed to reach a budget deal.
Gov. Dayton's opening comments:
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch's opening comments:
Governor Mark Dayton is calling Republican legislative leaders back to the bargaining table today with the hopes of ending the state government shutdown. It's the eleventh day of the shutdown and the two sides still appear to be far apart on a budget deal. Dayton says he sent a letter to GOP leaders telling them that he was open to discussing several revenue options including an income tax on top earners, tax hikes on cigarettes and alcohol, eliminating sales tax breaks and expanding the sales tax while lower the rate. Dayton says his income tax proposal, like President Obama's, is a very selective tax increase.
"It's only on the very wealthiest individuals," Dayton said. "It's only on corporations that aren't paying their fair share. It's not on all small businesses. It's not on all taxpayers. But they hide behind the same fiction that it's an overall tax increase, and they're intransigent about moving beyond it."
Republicans oppose raising any taxes to erase the state's $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton says he hasn't spoken to the Speaker of the Minnesota House or the Senate Majority Leader since last Thursday. GOP legisatlive leaders have not made a budget offer to Dayton since the shutdown began on July first. The sides are $1.4 billion apart on a budget deal.
Dayton says he intends to travel to St. Cloud on Tuesday, southern Minnesota on Wednesday and Moorhead on Friday to campaign for his proposal. He also released a video on YouTube explaining his position on budget talks.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says she's disappointed with Dayton's letter.
"The governor continues to believe that the discussion needs to be about where the revenue comes from and how much," Koch said. "There's no compromise in the area that we're concerned about - reining in spending and reforming the way we are spending."
Republicans renewed their request that Dayton call a special session, which would allow them to begin working on some spending bills and passing a stopgap "lights on" bill to reopen government while broader negotiations continue.
Here's Dayton's letter to GOP leaders:
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea has scheduled a July 27th hearing on a legal challenge that questions whether a judge can authorize state spending. Several GOP state lawmakers filed the lawsuit in court on Friday. They question whether Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin has the constitutional authority to determine which state programs can continue during the government shutdown. Gearin has ruled that certain programs like prisons, the state patrol and subsidized heatlh insurance for the poor are essential services.
The four senators and two representatives say the Minnesota Constitution forbids any state spending unless it's authorized by the Minnesota Legislature.
Here's the briefing schedule.(2 Comments)
About the only activity was a rally on the front steps of the closed Capitol. More than one hundred representatives of Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese and other Asian-American groups gathered on the steps to call for an end to the shutdown. Organizer Zha Blong Xiong said the shutdown is hurting several social service agencies that help his community with employment searches and child care. He wants the governor and legislators to take notice.
"They need to put politics behind and put the people first, because everyday they're trying to struggle though this budget ordeal the people actually suffer," Xiong said. "And we really want our state leaders to get their act together, come together, compromise. Not not for the political party, but for the people of Minnesota."
Xiong said the same groups will be back with larger crowds if the budget impasse continues.
Meanwhile Republicans leaders renewed their request that Gov. Dayton call a special session. Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch released a written statement blaming the governor for allowing the shutdown to continue, rather than letting legislators work on some of the budget bills and pass a temporary lights on bill.
"Despite his insistence during the campaign cycle that he would not allow government to shut down, Governor Dayton has not only allowed Minnesota's State Government to shut down, but he has allowed it to continue by refusing to call us into a special session." Koch wrote. "Only Gov. Dayton can end this shut down."
Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin says the state's former constitutional officers, including former Govs. Arne Carlson and Wendell Anderson, should continue to receive retiree benefits during the government shutdown.
The Minnesota State Retirement System has asked Special Master Kathleen Blatz, to keep funding state retirement checks for Minnesota's 14 retired constitutional officers or their survivors. Judge Gearin already ruled that retirement benefits should be disbursed for the state's 30,000 retirees but the MSRS said the 14 constitutional officers are in a special plan that is funded by the general fund. Gearin agreed that the monthly payments of $37,899.34 should be paid.
Going into the second week of the state government shutdown, and there are no talks scheduled between Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders. Dayton's spokeswoman Katie Tinucci says Dayton is meeting with his staff and DFL lawmakers.
"We're still waiting for Republicans to make us an offer," Tinucci said.
If the shutdown lasts until Sunday, Minnesota will have the longest state shutdown since 2002 - the year The National Conference of State Legislatures started tracking the data (info from NCSL posted below).
There were three state government shutdowns in 1991 - Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maine.
Pennsylvania's shutdown was limited because the governor has the authority to continue many services. Pennsylvania's budget battle in 1991 meant state employees continued to work but didn't receive a paycheck. That impasse lasted 34 days.
Maine's impasse that year lasted 17 days. It was considered an "on and off again shutdown" where state workers were ordered off the job for all but three days of the impasse. The dispute dragged on as the two sides disagreed over changes to the state's worker's compensation laws.
Connecticut's impasse in 1991 lasted from July 1 until August 23. The governor of that state was pushing for the creation of an income tax - which was opposed by the Legislature. Connecticut passed several temporary "lights on bills" to keep government running as the governor vetoed three different budget bills. State workers went back on the job on July 9 after the governor approved a stop gap funding bill. The income tax eventually became law.
Here's the info from the NCSL:
Since 2002, fives states have experienced a government shutdown after starting the fiscal year without an enacted budget. Here are their experiences:(5 Comments)
Michigan recently has faced two partial shutdowns. The state's shutdown in 2007 lasted only four hours-from midnight of the last day of the fiscal year until 4:00 a.m. on October 1, 2007, when the governor and legislature reached a deal for temporary funding. In anticipation of the shutdown campers had been asked to leave state parks the night before. The short disruption also resulted in decreased state police on the highways. Plus, highway rest stops were barricaded, drawbridges closed and traffic cameras turned off. The partial shutdown involved temporary layoffs of 35,000 of the state's 53,000 employees. In FY 2010, Michigan experienced a technical two-hour government shutdown as lawmakers worked on a temporary spending plan. However, there was no interruption in the delivery of state services.
Pennsylvania experienced a governor-ordered partial shutdown in FY 2008. The governor and the legislature reached a budget agreement nine days into the new fiscal year. After a week of impasses, the governor ordered nearly 24,000 state employees to stay home on July 9.
New Jersey's state government partially shut down in FY 2007. This occurred despite the state having missed its budget deadline in three of the previous five years without shutting down. Before the governor signed the budget eight days into the fiscal year, 45,000 non-essential employees were placed on unpaid leave. One of the more dramatic results of the furloughs was the three-day shutdown of Atlantic City's casinos for the first time since their launch. This occurred because state casino inspectors, who are required by law to be present in the casinos, were among the state workers included in the furlough order.
A partial shutdown occurred in Minnesota in FY 2006-the first shutdown in the state's history. Nine days into the new fiscal year the governor and legislature reached agreement on a temporary funding measure. This allowed the 9,000 state employees furloughed during the shutdown to report back to work.
Tennessee's state government partially shut down for three days in FY 2003. During that time, classes stopped at public universities, state parks were closed, driver's licenses were not issued and road construction ceased. Many services, such as public health, welfare, child support, mental health, prisons and highway patrols, continued to be provided.
A commission formed by former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Gov. Arne Carlson issued its recommendations today.
The plan calls for $2.2 billion in permanent spending cuts and $1.4 billion in tax increases. That includes a tobacco tax increase of $1.29 per pack of cigarettes, a Medicaid surcharge on hospitals, an alcohol tax increase and a temporary income tax increase on every Minnesotan.
The six-member commission says in the long term, the state sales tax should be broadened and the rate lowered. The plan calls for an overall two-year budget of $35.6 billion. Republican legislative leaders say the budget should be no more than 34 billion.
Mondale and Carlson created the commission with the hopes of finding a third way to break the budget impasse between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders.
Here's the report:
Framework for a State Budget Solution
Here's the powerpoint:
Update: Here's a statement from Dayton:
"I thank Vice President Mondale and Governor Carlson for their important initiative to help resolve the state's current budget impasse. I also thank former legislative leaders Steve Dille and Wayne Simoneau and the other very distinguished members of their committee who worked so hard, so swiftly, and so well to develop their recommendations.
"I note that most of the Committee's recommendations parallel my own proposals. They recommend $2.2 billion in permanent spending cuts; I have detailed almost $2.1 billion in spending reductions. They recommend $700 million in increased revenues from increased alcohol and tobacco taxes and a human service surcharge; yesterday I proposed raising $700 million from a tobacco tax increase, other tax reforms, and health care surcharges.
"I respectfully differ with the Committee on their recommendation of a 4% temporary income tax surcharge on all Minnesota taxpayers. My goal has consistently been to protect most Minnesotans from either an income tax increase or a property tax increase, by raising state income taxes on only the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans. Most other Minnesotans are already over-taxed, due primarily to the 75% increase in property taxes statewide during the previous eight years.
"Unfortunately, Republican Legislators remain adamantly opposed to making our state tax system fairer. That is why I reluctantly proposed an additional $700 million in delayed school aid payments, which further reduces state spending by that amount in the biennium.
"The Republicans in the State Legislature have received three compromise proposals in the past 24 hours: two from me and one from this very distinguished Committee. Now it is their responsibility either to accept one of them, or else to present their own alternative proposal. It will take both them and me to resolve this budget impasse. I have offered yet another compromise; now it is their turn to offer their compromise."
Update: Here's a statement from GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers:
"The 3rd Way Budget Commission recommendation raises income taxes on every Minnesotan. It also taxes Joe Six Pack's six pack and makes those who smoke pay more. Like Governor Dayton's offer yesterday, this again shows that it's no longer about wanting a tax increase on the rich, it's about raising whatever taxes he can in order to spend more. Families across Minnesota are already struggling to make ends meet. This is not a solution. It is a retread of failed tax and spend policies. Republicans will not raise taxes to pay for unsustainable government growth."
Here's a statement from DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen:
I appreciate the work of the Mondale-Carlson Budget Commission, though like the Governor, I disagree with taxing all Minnesotans. Vice President Mondale, Governor Carlson, and the commission members have given tremendous service to our state both in this time of shutdown and throughout their careers.
Today's recommendations have merit, as have the seven budget compromises that Governor Dayton has proposed to the Republican legislative leaders. However, the fact remains that Republicans are utterly unwilling to listen to those who have served our great state, to reason, or even to the people of Minnesota in order to solve this budget impasse.
The Mondale-Carlson Commission outlined a framework of a $1.4 billion shift, $2.2 billion in budget cuts, and $1.4 billion in revenue. The fact is that the Republicans last week prior to shutdown agreed we need more than $1 billion in additional revenue to prevent the most damaging budget cuts from harming our state. They also agreed to take their divisive policy proposals off the bargaining table and focus on the task at hand - solving the budget deficit. All that remains is to agree on how we fix that billion dollar hole in the budget.
It is shameful that Republicans are continuing this devastating shutdown by continually refusing proposal after proposal. They have failed to lead at every step and shut down our state. Leaders listen, and it is time for Republicans to learn to listen and lead.
DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk issued this statement:
"I want to thank Vice President Mondale and former Governor Carlson, along with the rest of the Democratic and Republican members of the "third way" budget group, for their hard work in crafting their own framework for ending the state government shutdown and solving the biggest budget deficit in state history.(24 Comments)
The report from this bipartisan, independent commission makes one thing perfectly clear: we should not fix the biggest budget deficit in state history simply by slashing funding for schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, and public safety. The Republican's all-cuts budget plan would slash funding for special education, take away health care coverage to 140,000 Minnesotans, make the biggest funding cuts to colleges and universities in state history, and devastate services for seniors and the disabled. This is an unacceptable outcome.
The bipartisan commission agrees that we need a balanced budget approach that combines responsible spending cuts and smart reforms with new, permanent revenue that allows us to protect our key priorities. This is also the position of Gov. Dayton, Democrats, many moderate Republicans, the vast majority of Minnesotans, and even the state's economist.
The Governor has made it perfectly clear that he's willing to compromise, but will not capitulate to the extreme, all-cuts Republican budget proposal. It's time for Sen. Koch and Speaker Zellers to get serious about ending this impasse, and come forward with a real compromise offer."
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers met briefly with Gov. Dayton during a morning meeting that focused on the K-12 budget bill. Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, characterized the talks as constructive.
"It's safe to say that there's agreement on what there's disagreement on," Garofalo said. "That's a positive step because when you know what you disagree on you also know what you agree on."
Garofalo said he believes that the K-12 bill could be wrapped up quickly, since he says the two sides are close on the budget figures. But there are significant policy differences. For example, he said he's still pushing for K-12 vouchers and changes to integration aid.
"The integration funding program has spent over $1 billion and academic results have gotten worse, not better," Garofalo said. "There will be changes to that program. I can promise you that.
Sen. Koch also said their proposal to put an additional $80 million into the budget is linked to their policy changes. Gov. Dayton and other Democrats have rejected some of the policy proposals.
"We're miles apart on policy," Rep. Mindy Greiling, R-Roseville said. "We have a long way to go."
Koch says Dayton met briefly with leaders as they discussed the K-12 bill but she said they did not try to negotiate an overall budget agreement that would end the state government shutdown that began seven days ago.
Republicans have also renewed their call for Dayton to call a special session so the Legisalture can pass a bill that would partially fund state government.
"Forty-nine of 50 governors have solved budget issues," Koch said. "The governor is the CEO of the state. We need him to step up and lead."
When pressed, Koch was forced to acknowledge that state legisatures of all types have also finished their work. Koch also refused to say whether GOP leaders would present a budget offer to Dayton. Instead, she insisted that Republicans won't support a tax increase to close the budget gap.
"If the governor still has his tax increase proposal on the table then that hasn't changed that," Koch said.
The meeting comes one day after Dayton presented a budget offer to GOP legislative leaders. One option in his offer is a temporary income tax surcharge on people with an annual salary of $1 million or more. The other option would be to increase taxes on cigarettes by $1 a pack. Both of those plans also rely on a surcharge on hospitals and HMOs and further delaying payments to schools.
Dayton said Republicans would have to present a budget offer if they don't like his ideas.
It's Day 7 of the state government shutdown and there are no major events scheduled at the State Capitol today.
There are no budget meetings scheduled between Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders (as of now). The two sides broke off talks yesterday after Dayton presented two new options to resolve their budget differences (a cigarette tax increase or a temporary income tax increase). Both were rejected by GOP leaders. Dayton said Republicans would have to present a different offer if they didn't like his proposal.
Dayton will attend a private ceremony for Sgt. Chad Frokjer, who was killed in Afghanistan on June 30.
Meanwhile, the chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees will appear before Kathleen Blatz, the Special Master assigned to hear pleas on why certain government services should continue during the shutdown. GOP Rep. Mike Beard and GOP Sen. Joe Gimse plan to request that a judge declare that the state's road construction projects are essential services and need to continue operating.
Several social services agencies, including Lutheran Social Services and Tubman, are also scheduled to appear at the hearing.
PolyMet mining will also request that their environmental review continue during the shutdown.
You can read the full agenda here.
Gov. Dayton tells reporters about his latest budget offer:
GOP legislative leaders react to Dayton's proposal:
Gov. Dayton is revising his tax proposal with the hopes of convincing Republicans to accept some sort of revenue increase. Dayton has presented GOP legisaltive leaders with two offers. The first would create an temporary income tax increase on people making more than $1 million. It would also increase surcharges on hospitals and health plans and delay payments to schools.
The second option would raise cigarette taxes by $1 a pack, increase the health care surcharge and delay payments to schools.
Dayton said he was revising his budget plan with the hopes of convincing Republicans to accept some sort of revenue. Republicans quickly rejected the plan which prompted Dayton to say Republicans don't support any proposal that increases revenue.
"If this is a step back, it's their step back," Dayton said.
GOP legislative leaders renewed their call for Dayton to call lawmakers back into a special session so they can pass a bill that would continue funding.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers says the offer is a step backwards. He says Republicans campaigned on holding the line on taxes and spending.
"If that's what we campaigned on and that's what we were elected on, how do our members go back home and say we gave up all of our principles to the governor?" Zellers told reporters. "It's not about wins and losses. It's about keeping your word to the people who elected you."
The sides are at odds over the best way to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton says ongoing revenue has to be on the table. Republicans say they don't support any spending increases. The two sides are $1.4 billion apart on a two year budget.
Minnesota is in the sixth day of a state government shutdown.
Michael Brodkorb, spokesman for the Senate Republican Caucus and Deputy Chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, sent an e-mail to reporters pointing out that Dayton rejected a tobacco tax increase during the 2010 campaign for governor.
"You raise the price of a pack of cigarettes $1.50 as Mr. Horner proposed, that's money out of the pockets of working people and poorer people, and that means kids don't have as much to eat or don't have the same quality of food. Those are addictions, and I think you treat addictions as addictions and you don't penalize the people who are dealing with them economically." Source: Smart Politics
For his part, Dayton said there are few viable alternatives left that would raise the amount of money needed to close the gap between him and Republicans.
"After the income tax there aren't any good taxes in my view. But the only real sources of permanent revenue are property taxes, sales taxes and so-called sin taxes," Dayton told reporters.
Here's Dayton's letter:
Here's what Dayton says his $1.4 billion in added revenue will protect:9 Comments)
A coalition of labor and environmental groups is calling on Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders to end the six-day-old government shutdown with a budget deal that creates new jobs.
Members of the Blue Green Alliance said the mass layoff of public employees, as well as the idling of thousands of construction workers, is hurting Minnesota. Bob Struve of the American Council of Engineering Companies said the 150 companies he represents in Minnesota could lose 1,000 jobs in a prolonged shutdown.
"Construction is a seasonal business, and the damage caused by a long shutdown means that jobs, projects will be moved to 2012 and possibly even cancelled," Struve said. "The damage to our firms could be very, very significant."
As members called for an end to the shutdown, they renewed their call for Dayton and GOP legislative leaders to pass a bonding bill.
Dayton proposed a $1 billion bonding bill early in the session, but GOP leaders never supported it. Still, Harry Melander of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council said he thinks a bonding bill could be part of a final budget agreement.
"We continue to be optimistic that the Legislature will do what's right for Minnesota," Melander said. "And try to put tens of thousands of construction workers back to work and provide needed infrastructure repairs that need to happen to make Minnesota the state that it is."
Neither Dayton or GOP legislative leaders have discussed a bonding bill in the final days of budget negotiations.
Republican legislative leaders and Governor Mark Dayton are heading into their second day of budget talks since a partial state government shutdown. The two sides met yesterday without reporting any progress. House Speaker Kurt Zellers told MPR's Morning Edition today he expects talks will narrow to health care programs this afternoon.
"I think that will be a lot of the focus today," Zellers said. "Where our health care folks have been, what they have been able to accomplish you know in the last day or two here, and seeing if maybe that number that we were apart really wasn't as far apart as we though it was."
Zellers said one area that they can find cost savings is by asking the federal government for approval to change how the federal Medicaid program is run in the state. Dayton has said there's no guarantee the federal government will approve the request.
Zellers also renewed his call for Dayton to call lawmakers back into special session, something Dayton said he's not willing to do until a full budget deal is reached.
Dayton and the GOP controlled Legislature are at odds over the best way to erase a $5 billion budget deficit. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on top earners. Republicans say they don't want to spend any more money.
Zellers repeated his stance that the GOP budget offers from last week are now off the table because Gov. Dayton rejected them. Republicans suggested an additional K12 payment shift and borrowing against future tobacco payments to bring in more revenue. The governor said he would accept one of those options but not both because it won't fix the state's budget problems over the long-term.
Zellers said the K12 shift and the tobacco bonding is "not perfect" but said those options are better than Dayton's income tax increase.
"Rather than taxing a small businesswoman out of the state because she files her business and personal income together," Zellers said. "Raising those taxes with tough economic times and when our neighboring states and states all across the country aren't makes Minnesota uncompetitive,"
Zellers also didn't take an expansion of gambling off of the table. But he said some of the problems with gambling is that local officials in Minneapolis and Bloomington aren't interested in a casino in their cities.
"That would be one option, yes" Zellers said of expanding gambling. "I'm not opposed to that. If it's not something the governor is going to sign, I don't think we should put the taxpayers or the legislators through the exercise."
Dayton has said he's open to an expansion gambling but questioned whether the revenues generated from a casino or a slot machines at the state's horse tracks would generate significant revenue.
Zellers also reiterated that GOP legislators are comfortable with their $34 billion budget. The key question is whether they can find a proposal that meets Dayton's demands for more revenue.
Here's the full interview: Listen
Gov. Dayton said during his news conference today that he spend his weekend throwing the frisbee to his puppy, Mingo. He said he also attended George Pillsbury's birthday party that featured several folks who know his current job fairly well.
Dayton said former GOP Gov. Al Quie, former GOP Gov. Arne Carlson and former IP Gov. Jesse Ventura also attended the event.
Reporters asked if the former governors had any advice for Dayton.
"Governor Ventura just said he doesn't envy the situation that I'm in," Dayton said. "I said I don't envy it either."
Dayton discusses meeting:
GOP leaders discuss meetings:
GOP leaders (take2)
DFL Governor Mark Dayton met with Republican legislative leaders today for the first time since state government shut down on Friday.
There didn't appear to be much progress toward resolving the ongoing budget standoff during the hour long closed door meeting, but afterward Dayton called it constructive. Republican leaders again called on Dayton to pass a limited budget bill that would allow some parts of the government to reopen. GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said lawmakers could pass several budget bills like higher education and public safety.
"If you look at the numbers, you can see that they are very in agreement," Koch told reporters several times. But she admitted that there are major differences on where to spend money in those respective budget bills and Republicans disagree with Dayton over policy matters.
Dayton told MPR News earlier today that it's an exaggeration to suggest that they are close to an agreement on specific budget bills.
Meanwhile, GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers took some of their revenue raising options off the table.
"Our last offer was to turn the lights on," Zellers said about negotiations. He said a plan to further delay payments to K-12 schools and borrow against future tobacco payments is no longer being considered at this time.
"Negotiations, whether you're a lawyer or someone at the Capitol, if that's been refused then it's off the table," Zellers said. If it's asked to be put back on the table then we'll consider it at that time."
Dayton says he's opposed to that because it would make it harder to negotiate the overall budget.
"There's a tradeoff involved there. It's not just about being difficult," Dayton said. "It's about saying that you've got to have the same desire to resolve everything as you do the ones that happen to be more popular."
Dayton said he's willing to consider any and all revenue possibilities to balance the state's budget. "we're all out of options," Dayton said at one point.
The two sides are still about $1.8 billion dollars apart on a budget solution. Dayton says a tax increase on the state's top earners is needed to close the gap. Republicans say they won't agree to raise taxes.
Both Minnesota political parties are capitalizing on the government shutdown.
In an email to constituents, the Republican Party of Minnesota asks for contributions of $25, $50 or $100 to "to build the resources all of our candidates will need for the next election so we can maintain our majorities. Our Republican majorities are all that stand between [Gov. Mark Dayton] and his desire to raise taxes on the hard working citizens of Minnesota."
"In spite of promising not to shut down state government over taxes - he did just that! Instead of calling legislators back to St. Paul to pass a temporary spending bill to keep government running while they negotiate, Dayton unnecessarily shut down state government - throwing thousands of government workers out on the street!"
When asked about the letter, House Speaker Kurt Zellers distanced himself from the solicitation, saying he doesn't communicate with GOP Party Chairman Tony Sutton.
"We're here to get our job done," he said. "I don't know or care what the party is doing to raise money."
With the subject line "Too far," the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party asked supporters in an email to sign a petition to tell "Republican leaders to stop playing politics with the future of our state."
"We can't allow these government officials to put the interests of a few millionaires ahead of the needs of all Minnesotans. It's up to us to stand up and demand that a reasonable compromise be found. Speak out today and tell the GOP lawmakers that they need to stop their grandstanding and start compromising."
Dayton said that the asking supporters to sign a petition was "certainly appropriate. They're trying to get evidence for support for my position."
He said it's inappropriate for the GOP to be using the situation to raise cash, noting that the DFL letter makes no such requests.
But while the DFL doesn't ask for contributions outright, it's hard to miss the big "Contribute" button in the margins of the July 5th email. Click on it, and it takes you to the DFL's "Make a Contribution" page.
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are scheduled to resume budget negotiations at 2:30 today in Dayton's office. It will be the first meeting since state government shutdown on Friday. Before that, the two sides negotiated for seven straight days. They failed to reach a deal as they continued to disagree over taxes and spending.
Gov. Dayton said on Friday it would be best if the two sides took a break from negotiations over the weekend so there could be a "cooling off period."
It's the fifth day of the government shutdown. Twenty-two thousand state employees have been laid off and many state services have been discontinued as a result of the impasse.
Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton revised his request of which government services should continue running. He says services like special education funding, child care assistance and services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes should operate during the shutdown. The governor's office says they submitted the request to Special Master Kathleen Blatz. The news release says the governor believes the change is in line with an order released by Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he'll call GOP legislative leaders this morning with the hopes of holding private meetings today to end the state government shutdown.
"I intend to call them this morning and see if they're available to meet this afternoon, or as soon as possible thereafter so we can start putting this back together," Dayton told MPR's Morning Edition.
The shutdown began Friday after the two sides failed to come up with an agreement on how to resolve a $5 billion projected budget deficit projected over the next two years. About 22,000 state government employees have been laid off, and the shutdown is having an impact on the private sector as well.
"This is a terrible situation," Dayton said of the shutdown, adding that he hopes moderates from both parties will come out and "force everyone to a resolution."
Dayton acknowledged that the core political beliefs are part of the reason the impasse has gone on so long.
"Because we are standing on principles, it makes it much more difficult," Dayton said.
Republican leaders have rejected Dayton's proposal to raise income tax rates for the 7,700 Minnesota residents earning more than $1 million, saying tax hikes are the wrong strategy. Dayton has refused to sign on to the Republican budget plan, saying it cuts too much and would hurt the state's most vulnerable residents
Dayton also said he would like to see social and political issues like a ban on human cloning, a requirement that people show a photo ID to vote and redistricting will not be included in budget talks.
"We'll be at loggerheads for a very long time" if GOP wants those items in bills," Dayton said.
You can listen to the full interview here: Listen
MPR's Elizabeth Dunbar contributed to this report.(2 Comments)
From MPR's Paul Tosto...
Don't expect the state budget impasse to end this weekend.
Gov. Mark Dayton says while he's willing to meet over the next few days with Republican legislative leaders, he said negotiators need a "breather" and that he expects to begin reaching out on Tuesday to Republicans and DFLers legislators, "anyone with ideas who can help get this resolved."
His comments came during a taped interview this afternoon with Tom Crann, host of MPR's All Things Considered. Portions of the interview will be aired tonight during the show.
Asked about when talks might happen next, Dayton said he'd been strategizing with staff about finding "responsible compromise solutions" to make the state government shutdown as short as possible.
He said he planned to have "individual conversations over the weekend" and then "begin next Tuesday to reach out to Republicans and others to get the impasse resolved.
Asked why wait until Tuesday, Dayton said negotiators had met around the clock for eight days straight and "Sometimes you just need a little bit of a breather. Things ended on a harsh note last night....people are in more need of a good night's sleep than another haranguing."
I'll post the full interview once it's available.
Here's that audio:
On his way back from meeting with Florida lawmakers Thursday, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty weighed in on the state's budget impasse just hours before the government shut down.
"Both in Washington, D.C., and in St. Paul, the Democrats continue their thirst for more spending and more taxes, and that's not the right direction for Minnesota and that's not the right direction for our country," he said during an eleventh hour press conference at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.
"The Democrats are the ones that are driving the finances toward the cliff," he said adding that he supports the state's GOP legislators in pushing back on Dayton's proposed income tax increases on the wealthiest Minnesotans.
In fact, the state's $5 billion budget gap is the result of decisions made during Pawlenty's administration, including about $2 billion in one-time federal stimulus dollars and a $1.9 billion delay in school payments that effectively allowed the state to support more programming in the last biennium than it had in cash.
Those shifts allow Pawlenty to claim he left the state with a $399 million surplus.
Pawlenty deflected questions about his role in the current budget crisis, saying that it's based on massive spending increases proposed by the current administration.
"If this state government would simply live within the revenues it has available, it wouldn't have any deficit at all," he said.
Not to be outdone, DFL party chair Ken Martin showed up at the airport for his own press conference.
Here's what he had to say in response to Pawlenty's comments:
"The last thing Minnesotans and the last thing Americans need at this point is fiscal policy and budget advice from Tim Pawlenty. He left this state with a record budget deficit of $6.2 billion, and here we are a few short hours away from a potential government shutdown that Tim Pawlenty created."
Since Pawlenty left office, the state's projected deficit has been scaled back to $5 billion over the next two years.
Gov. Dayton delivers speech:
GOP Leaders react:
Minnesota is in the second state government shutdown in six years after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton failed to reach a budget deal with GOP legislative leaders. The major sticking point continues to be over taxes and spending and the best way to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit.
Two hours before the midnight deadline, Governor Dayton said in a news conference that his latest offer included taxing only Minnesotans making a million dollars or more a year. He says that amounts to about 8 thousand Minnesotans.
Dayton criticized Republicans for not accepting any tax increases.
"Instead of taxing their friends," Dayton said. "They would prefer very damaging cuts to health care, K-12 and higher education, state and local public safety, mass transit and other essential services to the people of Minnesota."
Republicans countered that they had a bill to keep the state government running on a bare bones basis, but Dayton rejected it. They also said the two sides were closer to a deal than Dayton said.
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers says Republicans won't raise taxes because they are aiming to reign in government spending.
"This isn't about getting a budget deal. This is about shutting down government in spite of hard work, in spite of compromise, in spite of actual agreement."
The government shutdown will force thousands of layoffs in both the public and private sector. The state's parks, the State Capitol and the Minnesota Zoo are just a few of the areas that are closed because of the shutdown.
With less than three hours to go until a state government shutdown, state lawmakers are making some last minute moves to avoid blame for failing to finish their work.
Nearly every Republican in the Minnesota House marched into the House chambers to show that they are ready to work. The move is ceremonial since that work can't be done until Gov. Dayton calls lawmakers back into a special session. Dayton has refused to do so until a full budget agreement is reached. Despite that stance, GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean says Dayton should call a special session so the Legislature should pass a "lights on" bill to keep government running.
"We need the governor to call us back into a special session," Dean said. "The governor is the only guy who can get this thing started and he's the only one who has the keys to get us started."
Dean said "it's pretty obvious" that they are at a critical point" as the clock ticks closer to midnight.
DFL House Majority Leader Paul Thissen criticized Republicans are more interested in "political theater" than getting a budget deal done.
"Instead of playing mock Legislature the Republicans should be working to get a balanced and fair budget negotiated," Thissen said.
The two sides have sharpened their rhetoric as the clock ticks closer to the midnight deadline. They are arguing over the best way to enact a two year budget that includes a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Gov. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners. Republicans are proposing to erase the deficit through spending cuts.
Neither side has released specifics on where budget negotiations stand.
Update: Gov. Dayton will deliver a speech at 10pm on the shutdown.
Republican House and Senate leaders say they still want to avoid a state government shutdown, and they think they are close to reaching a budget agreement with DFL Governor Mark Dayton.
But the start of that shutdown is now just hours away. So, GOP leaders are urging Dayton to call a special session now to allow them to begin working on some of the budget bills while broader negotiations continue. House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said a shutdown is not necessary and would be bad for Minnesota...
"Let's get the job done," Zellers said. "Let's not shut down government. Let's pass the bills where we're close.We can come back and finish the couple of other ones that were maybe still not quite on. But it's time to call us back. It's getting too close to the end. Let's get to work. Let's get our job done and let's make sure Minnrsotans are ready for the Fourth of July weekend."
Dayton has consistently said he will not call a special session until a complete budget deal is reached.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he remains optimistic about the negotiations.
"Well, we've been here pretty continuously for the last weeek, since Friday morning," Bakk said. " We've had a lot of good discussions with the Republicans, and I do think the opportunity for a global agreement tonight that would prevent a shutdown is within reach."
There are seven hours left until state government shuts down. Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders still don't have a budget deal.
The Minnesota State Capitol is now closed to the public. Capitol Security officers escorted protesters, citizens and lobbyists to the exit doors at 5pm. Everyone cooperated with Capitol Security.
Security guards also locked the doors to the Capitol and are standing guard at certain doorways.
State officials announced that the State Capitol complex will be closed to the public. Only essential personnel, lawmakers, Gov. Dayton and the news media will be allowed in. Capitol Security says committee hearings and floor sessions will be open to the public if and when they're scheduled.
GOP legislative leaders have held two brief meetings with Gov. Dayton today. The most recent round of budget talks ended with just 11 hours until state government shuts down.
Senate Republican Caucus spokesman Michael Brodkorb says he expects another round of meetings to be held today but said none are scheduled.
Dayton, GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers or GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch have not made any comments about the budget talks since Tuesday night.
The two sides are working to find a compromise on a two-year budget that erases a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners, along with spending cuts. Republicans say the deficit can be erased through spending cuts alone.
Brodkorb says nearly every Republican member of the Senate is in St. Paul right now. He said a private caucus meeting was held this morning but refused to comment on details of the discussions.(1 Comments)
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders broke off talks tonight at 9:30. There are no more talks scheduled for tonight and no talks scheduled for tomorrow. The two sides have one more full day to reach a budget deal or state government shuts down.
"We do not have a deal," Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said.
He said they are close on many areas. He declined to provide specifics.
"We're absolutely committed to getting this finished, to completing our work. We just need a little help from the governor to call us back."
Michel renewed his call for Gov. Dayton to call a special session so lawmakers could at least pass a bill that would keep government running. Dayton, who made no public comments on Wednesday, has said he won't call lawmakers back until they agree to a full budget deal.
Today's budget talks were considered important because Dayton told reporters earlier this week that a deal had to be in place by Wednesday night to avert a shutdown. His spokesman was mum on whether Dayton thought a shutdown was inevitable now that a deal wasn't reached.
"We're continuing to work to avoid that," Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said of a looming shutdown.
Dayton and legislative leaders met privately through the day with committee chairs and commissioners who focus on K12 schools and Health and Human Services programs.
The two sides are at odds over the best way to craft a two year budget. Dayton wants to erase a $5 billion budget deficit by raising income taxes on top earners. Republicans say they can erase the deficit through spending cuts. State government shuts down at midnight if the two sides fail to do their work.
GOP leaders say Republicans are preparing to come back to St. Paul on Thursday with hopes that a budget deal can be reached. The move is also a public relations effort to emphasize that the GOP controlled Legislature wants to get back to work.
State government will shut down at midnight Thursday if a budget deal is not reached.(4 Comments)
The Minnesota State Capitol will close its doors to the public if a state shutdown occurs.
Minnesota Management and Budget says the State Capitol, the Administration building and the State Office Building will be closed to the public.
Access to all Capitol Complex buildings will be limited to court-approved, critical services employees using their state-issued I.D. badge.
All tunnels throughout the Capitol Complex will be closed with exception of Admin tunnel to Capitol. No state employees providing critical services will have access to any tunnel other than the Admin tunnel.
I.D. badges must be prominently displayed at all times. Building occupants not displaying I.D. badges will be subject to challenge by Capitol Security personnel.
Non-state personnel/general public having business or attending an open meeting in either the Capitol Building or the State Office Building will be screened by uniformed staff for admission at a single ground level entrance at each building:
• Capitol Building - Northwest Entrance adjacent to Parking Lot N
State Office Building - South Entrance opposite the Transportation Building
Capitol Security is also telling Capitol reporters that they need to have their press badges to get into the building to cover budget talks.
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders have been mum about their private negotiations. After nearly every meeting, the two sides decline to discuss specifics saying they want to respect the "Cone of silence" between the two parties. The idea is that negotiators can be more frank about their discussions if they don't discuss the ideas in public.
No one knows why Dayton and legislative leaders came up with that term. Several reporters say GOP Rep. Kurt Zellers first coined the term to the press on Sunday.
Fans of the TV show, Get Smart, may remember that "the cone of silence" was used to keep top secret talks private.
The only problem, as you see in this video, is that those within the "Cone of silence" couldn't hear what the others in the "Cone of silence" were saying.
Budget talks between Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders will continue beginning at 8pm Wednesday night
Dayton and GOP leaders have made few comments of substance about the status of budget talks. They have said they are maintaining a "cone of silence" to allow frank negotiations. In the meantime, the public is left to wonder whether state government will shut down at midnight on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Dayton said a deal would have to be reached by Wednesday night in order to avert a shutdown
Dayton and the GOP controlled Legislature are at odds over the best way to craft a two-year budget. Dayton wants to increase income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to erase a $5 billion budget deficit. Republicans say the deficit can be erased through spending cuts.
As the impasse continues among Dayton and the Legislature, a Ramsey County judge ruled that some services will continue.
You can read about the impact of that ruling here.
You can also check out MPR's Shutdown blog for more information on the looming shutdown.
David Lillehaug, an attorney for Governor Dayton says he's pleased Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin appeared to adopt Dayton's recommendations regarding which government services will continue if a shutdown occurs on Friday. But he said it won't be pretty if Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders can't reach an agreement.
"Based on her order, this is going to be a tough shutdown," Lillehaug said. "Anyone who says government doesn't do anything and doesn't do it well, upon reading this order, and if we do reach a shutdown on July 1, they're going to realize they're very very wrong."
Dayton issued this statement:
"While I am still reviewing Chief Judge Gearin's order, it appears that her order arrived at the same middle ground as my Administration, and essentially agreed with my list of critical services that must continue. I prepared that list based on my constitutional responsibility as Governor to protect the lives and safety of the people of Minnesota. I arrived at that list with a heavy heart, knowing full well the important role that government plays in the everyday success of Minnesota's citizens and businesses.
"Let me be clear: I would much prefer to find a fair and balanced budget solution, rather than a government shutdown. I am continuing to work toward a compromise needed to move forward."
Attorney General Lori Swanson released this statement on Gearin's decision:
"I am pleased that the courts granted our petitions with respect to both the judicial and executive branches.
We sought a declaration that the courts make the ultimate determination concerning the constitutional rights of our citizens and the core functions of state government in the event of a shutdown. In both cases, the courts did so.
We look forward to addressing further issues as they arise before Chief Justice Blatz."
GOP legislative leaders have been silent on Gearin's decision. Attorney Fritz Knaak, representing four individual GOP Senators, says his clients may challenge the constitutionality of Gearin's order. He says the state constitution forbids state spending that isn't authorized by the Legislature.
"Certainly in the next few days, if there isn't some kind of solution, I know my clients will certainly be scrutinizing this and make a decision on whether they want this issue fully reviewed."
The Minnesota Supreme Court tossed the initial petition that challenged whether a judge had the right to authorize state spending despite an appropriation. The court didn't rule on the merits of the challenge but said it was the wrong venue.
Core services of state government should continue in a state government shutdown, Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled Wednesday.
Gearin also appointed retired state Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Blatz as Special Master to hear and make recommendations to the court regarding funding issues.
Gearin said temporary funding to core services should continue until the end of July or until DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature agree on a budget.
Here's the order.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders resumed budget negotiations this morning, with a potential state government shutdown less than two days away.
This is the sixth consecutive day of closed-door meetings, but there's still no sign that a deal might be close. Both said agreed last Friday to negotiate without any public comments on the specifics of the talks. Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Bufflo, was sticking to that agreement when she arrived at the governor's office.
"I'm always optimistic," Koch said.
The governor's office is the third venue used for negotiations in recent days.
A state government shutdown will begin Friday unless a budget deal is reached. Gov. Dayton said yesterday that he thought the final breakthroughs must come today. or they won't be successful in avoiding the shutdown. He said the deadline will help produce an agreement if both sides are willing to reach an agreement. Leader Koch said she's telling lawmakers to be ready to return to St. Paul quickly in case a budget deal is reached.
Talks have broken up until 12:30 p.m. GOP leaders left through a back door. Or perhaps they used Immobilo, another Get Smart gadget to go along with their Cone of Silence.
Governor Dayton and legislative leaders intend to hold another budget meeting tomorrow morning as the clock ticks closer to a Friday deadline. The two sides met privately today but still didn't reach a deal on a two-year budget. Gov. Dayton and GOP lawmakers declined to discuss what they talked about in the private meetings, but Dayton said they need to reach a deal soon if they hope to avert a government shutdown.
"We have two days until July 1," Dayton said. "That's the timeline. So obviously the Legislature would have to act to avert a shutdown so the time is down to hours."
Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says she's telling lawmakers to be ready to return quickly to the Capitol in case a budget deal is reached.
"We're optimistic," Koch said. "We put those gears in motion, if you will. We fired up the Legislature this week and so they're standing at the ready."
Dayton and Republicans in the Legislature are at odds over the best way to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to help balance the budget. Republicans say the deficit can be erased through spending cuts.
A judge has ruled that Minnesota's Judiciary should continue running even if state government shuts down on July first.
Retired Judge Bruce Christopherson has ruled that the state's courts should continue operating even if Gov. Dayton and the Legislature fail to agree on a budget. In his order, Christopherson said the state should continue to fund the courts at least through July 30th.
The decision comes one day after the Attorney General, the governor's office and public defenders argued in court that the judiciary should continue to receive funding. In his order, Christopherson said that due process and other constitutional protections require the courts to continue running.
A ruling is still pending from another judge on whether other essential government functions should continue if no budget deal is reached by Friday. Update: A clerk for Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin says order will NOT come down today. She said they're working for Weds. or Thurs release.
You can read the order here.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders met behind closed doors this morning for about an hour and 15 minutes, but there were apparently no breakthroughs.
Both sides continue their self-imposed "cone of silence" regarding negotiation specifics.
"It was a constructive meeting," Dayton said as he returned to his Capitol office. We still have our differences."
Dayton said the talks would resume at 2:00 p.m., with a focus on the Health and Human Services area of state spending. He said negotiators would be leaving later in the afternoon to attend a memorial service for state Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park, who passed away earlier this month.
Republicans had little else to add.
"We had a good meeting, said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina. "We hope to be able to provide you guys with more of an update about mid-afternoon."
This was the fifth consecutive day of private talks. A state government shutdown is set to begin Friday if there's no budget agreement in place.
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders plan to meet again tomorrow to talk about the state budget. The two sides met privately for about 45 minutes today but revealed little about what was said behind closed doors. Dayton said keeping their negotiations private helps the two sides have an open dialogue. But Dayton wouldn't predict if a government shutdown can be averted by Friday's deadline.
"Either one is possible," Dayton said. "We will or we won't. I'm not going to lay odds on it but those are the two possibilities. We're committed to doing everything possible with these negotiations to avoid a shutdown."
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers says the two sides were focusing on key budget areas like education, health care, transportation and public safety.
"We're talking about the exact same things we have been talking about," Zellers said. "Because this is a very different legislative makeup, because there are tough economic times, these are difficult budget items to work through so it's taking us a little bit longer. I think most Minnesotans would say 'Do it right. Get it right the first time and if it takes a little bit longer it's worth the while because these are such tough times."
Dayton and Republicans differ over the best way to balance the state's budget. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to help erase a $5 billion budget deficit. Republicans say the deficit can be erased entirely through spending cuts. State government will shut down on Friday if the two sides fail to reach a budget deal.
Dayton and legislative leaders are scheduled to meet again tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock.
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are scheduled to meet privately at 3pm to discuss their differences on the state budget. It would be the fourth straight day that the two sides have met. They abruptly ended their meeting on Sunday after meeting for just over an hour.
State government would shut down on Friday if Dayton and GOP legislative leaders fail to reach a budget deal by Friday.
All sides in the shutdown case presented arguments in Ramsey District Court in St. Paul on Monday, June 27, 2011. After the hearing, Frederick Knaak (second from right) talked strategy with the intervening Minnesota State Sens. Sean Neinow, Scott Newman and Roger Chamberlain. (Photo by Richard Sennott/Star Tribune, pool)
A judge is considering whether the state's judicial system should continue to be funded in the event of a government shutdown.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is asking the courts to continue funding for the judicial system if Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican controlled Legislature fail to reach a budget deal by Friday. During a hearing in Ramsey County court today, Deputy Attorney General Nate Brennaman said failing to keep the courts running would jeopardize the constitutional right to a speedy trial, endanger people's right to have lawyers and fail to make sure children are protected from abuse and violence.
"Without a functioning court system, Minnesotans constitutional rights would not be afforded," Brennman said. "The courts are the forum and the protector of Minnesotans constitutional rights."
Dayton and the Board of Public Defense support continued court funding.
But Fritz Knaak, an attorney representing four Republican senators argued that funding the courts without legislative authorization is unconstitutional.
"Let me be that quiet voice in the middle of all of the rancor of need, need, need, need and necessity and everything else that everyone knows in state government needs to do, that quiet voice that says, 'you can't. The constitution doesn't allow it. There must be an appropriation.' "
Knaak's comments were quickly rebuked by the other attorneys in the case.
"With respect to Mr. Knaak's quiet voice," Christopher Madel said. "I'll raise him the loud voice of the U.S. Supreme Court in Gideon vs. Wainwright."
That's the case that guarantees people accused of crimes who can't afford lawyers the right to counsel.
Madel, who is representing the Board of Public Defense said he can't believe the four senators are arguing the courts should not continue to be funded.
"Are we really saying that we're going to stop paying you and public defenders in this state and let these people go into a jail without any right to counsel and without any opportunity to get out and have a fair hearing in the courts?"
Knaak says the only remedy is for the governor to call the Legislature back into special session to act on the budget bills. Dayton says he won't call a special session until there's agreement on a total budget.
Dayton and the Legislature are at odds over the best way to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners. Republicans say the deficit can be erased through spending cuts.
Judge Bruce Christopherson, a retired judge from Granite Falls, is taking the request under advisement.
"I do understand that promptness is important," Christopherson told the court. "But correctness is essential."
Christopherson is hearing the case because Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin recused herself due to a possible conflict of interest.
You can listen to the hearing in two parts.1 Comments)
Negotiations between Gov. Dayton and GOP leaders abruptly ended this afternoon, about an hour and 15 minutes after the Sunday session began.
Both sides characterized the Friday and Saturday discussions as productive, but they also agreed to not comment publicly about any of the specifics they were talking about behind closed doors. That stance continued as the the talks ended for the day without explanation. Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch avoided reporters by exiting the meeting through a back door.
Spokespersons for the House, Senate and governor's office were left trying to explain the situation with little information.
"Legislative leaders are going to be here today working, working and talking with respective staff and committee chairs, but I can't speak to any upcoming scheduled meetings with the governor," said Michael Brodkorb, spokesman for the Senate GOP.
Asked if the negotiations broke up unexpectedly, Brodkorb said he hadn't been told that.
The governor's staff was also in the dark.
"I can't tell you anything right now, but I'll see what I can find out and let you know," said Dayton press secretary Katharine Tinucci.(1 Comments)
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders are meeting behind closed doors for a third straight day, trying to reach a budget agreement that would avoid a state government shutdown.
State services will begin shutting down Friday, unless lawmakers reach a deal or if the court intervenes. A Ramsey County judge could rule in the next few days whether some essential services should continue during a shutdown. Dayton and GOP leaders have said they won't comment publicly about specifics while the negotiations continue. On his way to the latest meeting, Dayton stayed true to that pledge.
"I'm always optimistic, hopeful, Dayton said. "We'll see, but yes. I hope we can make the kind of progress we've made the past two days."
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, made no comments at all. They avoided reporters by entering the meeting through a backdoor.
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are planning to meet behind closed doors Sunday afternoon for a third straight day of budget talks. The two sides met privately for nearly eight hours on Saturday (Read a write-thru of the story here). Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are trying to break an impasse over a two year budget plan. The two sides also agreed to keep the talks private and it's unclear if they're any closer to reaching a budget deal.
"Our agreement that we would not discuss any of the details of our discussions is really crucial to our ability to build the trust necessary to really exchange candid ideas and talk things over," Dayton said. "There's a purpose for this reticence to talk about details because it's serving, in my view very constructively, the intent that we all have."
Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature must reach a budget deal by Friday or state government would shut down on that day if they fail to resolve their differences.(5 Comments)
Definition of PROGRESS
1a (1) : a royal journey marked by pomp and pageant (2) : a state procession b : a tour or circuit made by an official (as a judge) c : an expedition, journey, or march through a region
2: a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal) : advance
3: gradual betterment; especially : the progressive development of humankind
Progress is a word we're hearing a lot today as Gov. Dayton and Republican lawmakers continue to meet behind closed doors.
"Continuing to make progress," Dayton told reporters during one of the breaks in meetings.
"It's the best progress so far," Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, told reporters after he left a meeting. Abeler chairs the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.
The only problem is it's difficult to decipher what that means. Dayton and GOP leaders are maintaining radio silence and are saying very little about the status of negotiations.
Today's discussions focused on Health and Human Services, Higher Education, the Environment and Energy and Taxes.
This is the second straight day that Dayton and lawmakers are meeting behind closed doors.
The stakes for these talks are huge. The two sides have six days to reach a budget deal. If they fail, state government will shut down. Thousands of state employees will be laid off, state amenities like parks will close and the status of many state services will be up to a Ramsey County Judge.
Dayton and Republicans are $1.8 billion apart on reaching a budget deal. Dayton is aiming to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit through a mix of spending cuts, a K12 accounting shift and an income tax increase on Minnesota's top earners. Republicans say they can erase the budget deficit by relying on the accounting shift and spending cuts.
It appears that some lawmakers are expecting to keep working early next week. Abeler said negotiations on Health and Human Services were done for the day. He said he expected talks to resume on that budget area on Monday.
"We have a considerable road trip ahead of us," Abeler said.
He declined to discuss what were the main issues discussed in the meetings.
No word on how long talks will continue today or if the two sides intend to meet tomorrow. Meetings wrapped up today. They will meet again tomorrow at 2pm.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders are back behind closed doors this morning for daylong negotiations aimed at avoiding a state government shutdown on July 1.
They spent about seven hours in private meetings Friday, and afterwards described the talks as productive. The top lawmakers said they would not offer any specifics on the negotiations until there was a resolution, and they stayed true to that pledge today as they entered the meeting room.
Dayton had little to say when asked for any words of wisdom.
"I'm waiting for the wisdom to eminate in the room," Dayton said. "I wouldn't want to squander any wisdom, since it's so scarce, before I get in there. I'm looking forward to a good day. We had a good day yesterday I'm very hopeful we'll have a good day today."
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, offered a similarly guarded assessment.
"We have another productive day of going through spreadsheets, comparing budget items, what we've done before," Zellers said.
Zellers said he expected the talks today to focus on environment, health and human services, higher education and taxes. He also said he remained upbeat about avoiding a shutdown.
"I've remained optimistic that we don't need a government shutdown from the very beginning, that we can get done with this. But we continue to be positive, we continue to be optimistic, we continue to work hard at this, and we'll do it again today."
In addition to Dayton and Zellers, the meeting participants are Senate GOP Majority Leader Amy Koch, Deputy Senate GOP Majority Leader Geoff Michel, House GOP Majority Leader Matt Dean, House Ways and Means chair Mary Liz Holberg, Senate DFL Minority Leader Tom Bakk, House DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen and management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter.
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders intend to continue budget negotiations tomorrow with the hope of averting a state government shutdown next Friday. The two sides wrapped up an all-day round of private budget meetings today.
"We made progress," GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said to reporters during a brief news conference.
The two sides met privately in a conference room outside of the Speaker Office in the State Office Building. The chairs of the respective committees shuffled in and out of meetings that featured Koch, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers, House Majority Leader Matt Dean and House Ways and Means Chair Mary Liz Holberg. Gov. Dayton was flanked by Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk.
Dayton and the GOP controlled Legislature disagree over the best way to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton wants to increase taxes on top earners. Republicans say the shortfall can be erased through spending cuts.
Neither side offered specifics on the discussions but Dayton called it a constructive day.
"We've run through a number of expenditure bills," Dayton said. "We've come to agreement on considerable parts of them. We've had areas of disagreement on parts of them. We have areas of disagreement that we'll go back to but it was a very worthwhile day but I feel good about the rapport we've established, the civility that prevailed and the results that we've achieved."
Dayton and GOP leaders declined to say if they reached agreement on a total budget amount. Zellers and Koch said they talked mostly about State Government Finance, K12, Transportation, Public Safety and the Courts and Jobs and Economic Development in today's meetings. They say they'll talk about those bills along with Taxes, Health and Human Services, Environment and Higher Education tomorrow.
Dayton was careful to note that they haven't reached agreement on any individual budget bills.
Zellers said Governor Dayton and Republican leaders both want to reach a deal.
"We've gone through spreadsheets. We took out highlighters," Zellers said. "It was a very productive day. We covered a lot of issue areas in the time that we were in there. I share the governor's sentiment."
Dayton and lawmakers are bumping against a July first deadline. State government will shut down if Dayton and lawmakers don't reach a budget deal.
There have been a few signals that the two sides are making progress in reaching a deal. They held a news conference together instead of separately. They have also declined to discuss budget specifics with the press and dropped their respective talking points during their brief comments to the media. But Dayton signaled that they still had work to do when asked if he was optimistic that a deal can be reached by next Friday.
"I'm not confident of anything other than the sun rising," Dayton said. "We'll see what happens tomorrow."
Dayton and GOP leaders meet again tomorrow morning at 9:30.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann issued a news release today saying that a potential state government shutdown shows the need for a new bridge in Stillwater. State officials announced last week that the lift bridge will not be operating if state government shuts down on July 1.
Bachmann said the problem is proof a new bridge needs to be built.
"The prospect of the Stillwater Lift Bridge being locked in the 'up' position during a state government shutdown serves as another compelling reason for a new St. Croix River crossing. The bridge closure will result in more than 16,000 rerouted daily drivers experiencing increased travel times that will raise the cost of their daily commute.
"The 80-year-old lift bridge has been in need of replacement for decades, and we are now closer than ever to a new crossing. This spring I introduced a bipartisan bill in the House, and Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) introduced a similar bill with bipartisan support in the Senate, that would allow the river crossing project to move forward. I urge my colleagues to give these bills immediate attention. Once a new bridge exists, the Minnesota and Wisconsin residents who frequently cross the river will not have to worry about the impact that operational delays of the lift bridge will have on their daily commute."
Bachmann also said federal law requires lift bridges to remain open if no operator is available.
Posted at 1:40 PM on June 24, 2011
by Elizabeth Dunbar
Filed under: 2011 Shutdown
The demolition of the Bren Road bridge at Highway 169 in Minnetonka won't happen as scheduled this weekend because of the possible government shutdown, City Manager John Gunyou said.
MnDOT has said it expects to prohibit any work within the state right-of-way during a government shutdown, which will begin July 1 unless Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders agree on a budget.
Gunyou this week sent a letter to MnDOT questioning the decision, pointing out that the Minnetonka project is being managed and inspected entirely by the city and its contractors, not the state. Gunyou sent another letter today in response to what MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht told us yesterday about the right-of-way issues.
In the letter, Gunyou says if MnDOT is concerned about jobs being adequately inspected, the city will pay for an additional inspector to be on hand during a government shutdown.
Gunyou says the bridge demolition is on a two-week delay. But if there's a shutdown, the demolition would be delayed further unless the city gets MnDOT to let the project go on during a shutdown.
City officials estimate that stopping the project because of a shutdown will cost up to $3 million for the $15 million project. Potential costs include increased easement rent, delay penalties to contractors and increased expenses to close down and re-open the construction site.
"This is a project that is totally independent of any state shutdown. There's no reason this project has to stop," Gunyou said. "Rather than making the best of a bad situation, they're going out of their way to stop everything."
The city is asking MnDOT to respond by noon on Monday.
From MPR's Tim Pugmire:
DFL Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders say they're committed to lengthy negotiations over the next two days to try to reach a budget deal and avoid a government shutdown.
That potential shutdown is now just one week away. After an initial discussion this morning, both sides emerged from Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers' office and announced they would not comment on specifics during the course of negotiations. Dayton said the format of the talks is a work in progress.
"We're not constrained to any particular format," Dayton said. "We'll see what's effective. Again, I think we've agreed among ourselves we'll get more done more effectively if we say okay, we're not going to comment on the particulars until we have a result."
Speaker Zellers said he planned to work hard and quickly. But he said he would also keep negotiating beyond Saturday if necessary.(1 Comments)
Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin is considering whether she should rule that some areas of spending should continue if state government shuts down on July 1st. Attorney General Lori Swanson is asking Gearin to continue funding after a shutdown for critical services like prison guards, the state patrol and subsidized health insurance. Gearin said repeatedly during a court hearing today that she was uncomfortable wading into a dispute between Gov. Dayton and the Legislature and urged the two sides to get a deal done.
"I wouldn't want to be in the Legislature. I wouldn't want to be governor," Gearin said at the end of the hearing. "They've got a tough task. We have hard economic times. We have all kinds of social issues that are extemely complex and becoming more complex. I want to say this respectfully but it feels sometimes like almost a game of chicken."
Swanson is seeking court-ordered funding in case Dayton and Republican legislative leaders can't reach agreement on a new budget by July 1st. During her presentation, Swanson cited constitutional requirements for government to protect health and safety. She specifically highlighted state government services for the mentally ill, veterans and the state patrol. Swanson said a court order is a fiscal necessity.
"We're eight days away from the end of this biennium," Swanson said. "Absent resolution of the budget impasse in the next eight days state government will shut down. A government shutdown without a court order will violate the constitutional protections guaranteed to Minnesota citizens."
Attorney David Lillehaug, who is representing Dayton in the case, told Gearin that the governor is prepared to take action on his own if necessary to keep essential services running.
"He will act not based on his priorities," Lillehaug said. "But on what he understands to be critical services that are necessary to protect the life and safety of the people of Minnesota. So he will execute his constitutional responsibilities, and as of now, he's not asking a court for approval of that."
Earlier in the day, Judge Kathleen Gearin rejected Dayton's request for court-ordered mediation in the state budget dispute. She also rejected a petition from four Republican state Senators to intervene in the case.
The hearing last the entire day. Judge Gearin allowed the afternoon session to be recorded for broadcast. Here are the two afternoon portions of the hearing.
Hearing 1: Listen
Hearing 2: Listen
Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, chair of the Senate transporation committee, says road contractors are already feeling the pinch of a looming state government shutdown.
Gimse said today that projects like the replacement of a the Bren Road bridge over US 169 in Minnetonka could have started as soon as tomorrow, according to a letter to MnDOT and copied to Republican legislators by Minnetonka City Manager John Gunyou.
Here's the letter.
Gimse says the letter is proof that MnDOT is telling contrators that they won't have legal access to state right of way -- the room they need to work -- if the state shuts down.
"They have thousands and thousands of miles of road right of way across the state of Minensota," Gimse said at a Capitol press briefing this afternoon.
"They don't supervise every mile of that road right of way. These contractors know what they're doing, they understand what they're doing. It's simply a way, I believe, for them to inflict additional pain. It makes no sense. It's simply grass area on the sides of the road where equipment will stand, where materials will stand. And maybe a staging area."
MnDOT didn't have an immediate response to Gimse's accusations.
He called on Dayton to call the legislature back into session and allow lawmakers to pass a bill that would let billions of dollars in dedicated road funding keep flowing.
"We could get it done in four hours," Gimse said.
Update: Here's a response from MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht:
MnDOT is the legal owner of trunk highway right-of-way and is responsible for its condition.
By state law, it is illegal to do work in state right-of-way unless it is authorized by the state road authority. MS 160.2715.
MnDOT inspectors insure that contractors are meeting contract specifications when constructing any type of infrastructure. Not conducting the inspections could put taxpayers at risk financially if the work needs to be done over. And, if work does not meet appropriate safety specifications, it could put the driving public at risk.
Republicans in the House and Senate planned on holding daylong meetings with Gov. Dayton on Friday and Saturday with the hopes of reaching a budget deal and averting a state government shutdown. But those talks are even in jeopardy after there was a disagreement over who should be involved in the talks.
Senate Republican Caucus spokesman Michael Brodkorb issued a statement late last night saying Gov. Dayton agreed to talks that would only include Dayton, GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. But Brodkorb said in an e-mail that the talks are now in jeopardy because Dayton wants DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk involved as well.
Governor Dayton communicated that he was now requesting that Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen would also be in the room for negotiations. The Governor admitted that this was not part of the original agreement. Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk have offered little, if anything, to recent budget negotiations. They have also previously stated that they have no intention of offering a global budget solution.
While Senate Majority Leader Koch is committed to reaching a budget solution and preventing a state government shutdown, Governor Dayton's decision to break the agreement calls into question whether there will be any meetings on Friday or Saturday. Senate Majority Leader Koch is available for direct comment on this disappointing development.
Dayton and the Legislature have until July 1 to reach a budget deal. State government will shut down if no agreement is reached.
Gov. Dayton's Senior Communications Advisor Bob Hume issued a statement Thursday morning:
"The governor's priority is finding a fair and balanced budget solution. We urge the Republican leadership to reconsider the gravity of the situation Minnesotans are facing and meet tomorrow morning at 9:00 am so we can work in a bipartisan way on a meaningful compromise."(9 Comments)
A private meeting between Governor Dayton and GOP legislative leaders today resulted in little progress on an overall budget deal. The two sides have eight days to reach a deal or state government will shut down. Republican legislative leaders repeated their call on Dayton to call the Legislature back into a special session so they can work on the budget. GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says Republicans also plan to hold marathon meetings with Governor Dayton this weekend.
"We can solve this budget," Koch said. "In certain areas, we're incredibly close. In certain areas, we're a littler further away but we need to get down and dig into these bills. That will be the agenda for Friday and Saturday."
Dayton said he doesn't think agreements are close on any of the bills, and he doesn't want to isolate any of the budget bills until there's a global agreement and an overall spending target.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has dismissed a suit by four Minnesota Senators that said a lower court judge doesn't have the authority to authorize spending if a state shutdown occurs. Republican Senators Warren Limmer, Scott Newman, Sean Nienow and Roger Chamberlain filed the petition in the Minnesota Supreme Court last Friday. The court ruled today it didn't hold jurisdiction over the matter but didn't dismiss the challenge on its merits:
"We conclude based on the record before us that the petition does not satisfy the standards we have established for the exercise of our original jurisdiction over a petition for a writ of quo warranto. See Rice v. Connolly, 488 N.W.2d 241, 244 (Minn. 1992) ("While this court retains its original jurisdiction pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 480.04 (1990), we today signal our future intention to exercise that discretion in only the most exigent of circumstances."). Accordingly, we dismiss the petition without prejudice."
The four senators still have an avenue to win their case. Attorneys representing the group have also filed a challenge in Ramsey County District Court. Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin is scheduled to hold a hearing on what services should continue if state government shuts down.
Attorney General Lori Swanson and Governor Mark Dayton are asking the judge to decide which services are essential. They also argue that Gearin has the authority to authorize spending. Here's the order issued by the Minnesota Supreme Court:
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he doesn't want to see a state government shutdown on July 1, but he's still unwilling to accept a Republican budget that makes deep spending cuts.
In advance of a scheduled meeting with GOP legislative leaders, Dayton held a news conference today to highlight what he sees as the consequences of their proposed cuts. His list included college tuition hikes, local property tax increases and reductions in subsidized health care. Dayton said Republicans' continued opposition to tax increases or spending beyond $34 billion is "not responsible."
"We could negotiate this within a day," Dayton said. "But what's stopping it is their insistence that it be $34 billion, not a penny more. Everything else just gets thrown under the bus, including the lives of Minnesotans."
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said he thinks Dayton is feeling public pressure about the looming shutdown. Michel said he's convinced the public doesn't want any more spending.
Here's Michel's opening comments (Note: a protester with The Welfare Rights Committee interrupted the event):(13 Comments)
The Ramsey County Court will hold a hearing tomorrow on which government services and jobs should be sustained during a shutdown, and groups from across the state are scrambling to weigh in.
Here's a list of the most recent organizations and indivudals who've filed paperwork with the Ramsey County District Court. We've been updating this list since Monday. You can find more detail on the court's website, too.
The Minnesota Hospital Association
MHA represents 145 community-based hospitals in the state, most of which are government or non-profit institutions - and serve a vast number of Medicare and Medicaid patients as a result. Like other groups that rely on government support, MHA is asking that funding continues during a shutdown.
The Minnesota Workforce Council Association
This coalition of 16 groups coordinates assistance to dislocated workers, including job training. The federal government provides about 75 percent of the funding for these services and the money is administered through the Department of Employment and Economic Development or the Department of Health and Human Services. So MWCA is largely concerned with making sure that they can continue to tap federal dollars during a shutdown.
Associated General Contractors of Minnesota
The 400 member group includes general contractors and businesses associated with the construction industry. MnAGC's argues that construction - particularly highway construction - are "core functions" of government.
The first locality to petition the court, Hennepin County is arguing to keep all its critical government services open and funded during a shutdown, including child protection and child support enforcement, emergency case management, mental health services, and public health services. Read the entire list here.
Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Donna Dunn, the executive director of the group, has filed an affidavit to explain the potential affects of a government shutdown on the state's sexual assault services; the AG and Governor's submissions do not single out such services. Dunn argues that sexual assault advocates are essential to public safety because they are often the first responders to crimes of sexual violence, especially in cases where the victim chooses not to call the cops or go to the hospital. These programs also provide 24-hour emergency assistance.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to dismiss a petition that says a judge can't authorize most forms of state spending if the government shuts down.
In her request, Swanson said that such an action "is rarely invoked by courts."
The petition comes hours after four lawmakers, including GOP Sens. Warren Limmer, Scott Newman, Roger Chamberlain, and Sean Nienow filed a petition with the Supreme Court to block a lower court from keeping some services going during a shutdown.
They contend that the court's interference is unconstitutional because the state can only spend money if appropriations are signed into law; Gov. Dayton and the Republican-controlled legislature are at an impasse over spending for the coming two-year budget cycle.
Here's Swanson's Motion to Dismiss:
Respondent Attorney General's Memorandum in Support of Her Motion to Dismiss Petition for Quo Warranto
Here's the initial motion put forward by four Minnesota Republican senators:
Supreme Court Petition
The list of officials and groups that have filed court papers on the impending government shutdown is growing.
It's up to the courts to decide which government jobs and services continue if lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton fail to reach a budget agreement by July 1.
Here's a recap of who's petitioned Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin so far. The court is posting petitions as they get them here.
Attorney General Lori Swanson:
Swanson's first petition was filed on June 13, and includes a list of services that she believes should continue to operate during a shutdown, including prisons, sex offender treatment, veterans homes and health care programs that get support from the state.
Her second petition was filed on June 17. In it, she requests that the state's court system remain open during a shutdown.
Gov. Mark Dayton:
On June 15, Dayton filed his own request. His list also includes prisons and other public safety activities as well as emergency highway repair, and programs for the poor, elderly and disabled.
Of note: While Dayton argues in his petition that health care providers who treat patients on state health insurance plans, including hospitals and nursing homes, should operate during a shutdown, he's also argued that those facilities shouldn't get reimbursed until officials reach a budget deal.
The Minnesota Association of Treatment Programs:
On June 17, this coalition of drug addiction treatment providers asked the court to ensure that funding for the programs they administer would continue to flow during a shutdown. If funding - and therefore treatment - stalled, patients in detox programs could experience serious adverse health effects, the group argues.
Care Providers of Minnesota, Inc. and Aging Services of Minnesota:
These two groups, which represent the nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other organizations that rely on Medicare and Medicaid payments from the state to operate, are asking the court to deem those payments "critical" during a shutdown. They argue a discontinuation of payments, which Dayton's petition suggests, would be a violation of federal and Minnesota constitutions.
You can read the entire petition, filed June 20 here.
The Minnesota State Board of Public Defense
This group, which represents people who can't afford their own lawyer, has asked to remain open during a government shutdown, according to a document filed June 21 with the Ramsey County Court. Read more here.
Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota, Minnesota Development Achievement Center Association, and the Minnesota Habilitation Coalition
Three organizations that represent group homes and training facilities want to be deemed critical during a shutdown, and are asking the Ramsey County Court to keep Medicaid money flowing. The groups say that without those funds, they will not be able to pay employees or provide services for the developmentally and physically disabled patients they house and train. Here's more.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and the Minnesota Judicial Branch are petitioning Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin to issue an order keeping Minnesota's court system operating if state government shuts down.
The petition says the separation of powers doctrine requires the state of Minnesota to pay for court services. The petition asks the judge to require Minnesota Management and Budget to pay for such obligations if there's a state government shut down on July 1.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea released this statement on the petition.
"We take this action today because we believe it is in the best interests of the people we serve, the five million Minnesotans who are guaranteed access to justice that is delivered promptly and without delay," Gildea said in a statement. "I want to emphasize that we are requesting court action only in the event our budget situation is not resolved by July 1 through an appropriation, which is our preferred resolution."
This is the third petition submitted to Gearin. Swanson submitted a petition earlier this week to keep some executive branch services running if a shutdown occurred. Governor Dayton submitted his own petition earlier this week.
Gearin will hold a hearing next Thursday on the request.
State government will shut down if Dayton and GOP legislative leaders fail to reach a budget compromise by July 1.
Here's the petition:
Gov. Dayton quickly dismissed a GOP budget offer that was given to him this afternoon. The plan eliminates the tax cuts in their budget and dedicates that money to state services like K12 schools, the environment, public safety and higher education. The proposal doesn't rely on new revenue which Dayton said was a "disappointment."
Dayton he was expecting a "major offer" from Republicans and said this wasn't it.
"it's just rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic," Dayton said. "They're just keep us headed to the iceberg that is the July first shutdown and their not willing to deviate one inch from their course and it just doesn't add up."
Dayton said he needed to think about it when asked what the next step in how he'll proceed with budget negotiations.
The two sides are at odds over the best way to balance the state's two year budget. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to erase the $5 billiion projected budget deficit. Republicans say they would prefer to erase the deficit through spending cuts.
State government will shut down on July 1 if two sides fail to reach a budget deal.
Republicans in the Minnesota House and Senate are offering to drop their proposal to cut taxes if Governor Dayton drops his proposal to raise them. GOP legislative leaders presented Dayton with a budget offer today that cancels the $200 million in tax cuts in their plan and directs the money to funding for schools, public safety, the environment and other programs. Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers called the offer significant and hopes Dayton will present his own offer.
"We have withdrawn our request for tax cuts," Zellers said. "We ask him to withdraw his request for tax increases. This is something that we not only ran on but our members feel significant about. This is a major compromise building on our offer."
Zellers says the proposal does not increase revenue in their overall budget plan, which Dayton says is necessary to reach a budget deal.
Dayton quickly rejected the offer saying it was a disappointment.
The two sides are at an impasse as the clock ticks towards a state government shutdown. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to help erase the state's $5 billion projected budget deficit. Republicans say they can do it through spending cuts. State government will shut down on July 1st if they fail to reach a budget deal.
Here'e the offer:
The chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Finance Committees are calling on Gov. Dayton to call a special session so the Legislature can pass a funding bill that would keep MnDOT workers on the job and ensure that road construction projects continue.
Rep. Mike Beard, R-Shakopee, and Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, say they intend to visit every MnDOT district headquarters plus other construction and infrastructure sites over the next eight days.
They note that most of the money in the transportation budget is money that has to be spent on roads, bridges and transit projects. The funds are generated by the gas tax, license tab fees and the motor vehicle sales tax. They say a state government shutdown on July 1 would force contractors to shutter road construction projects because MnDOT employees would no longer be working to approve permits and other matters.
"We have typically six or seven months in order to accomplish what other states have all year to accomplish," Gimse said. "We can't afford to have our MnDOT employees and our contractors sit on the sideline at this critical time."
Gimse and Beard say they want Dayton to call a special session so the Legislature can quickly pass a $4.6 billion budget bill that spends the dedicated money for transportation projects. They say those funds have nothing to do with the general fund budget. Republicans also say the funding dispute over transit projects can continue to be worked out in much broader budget negotiations.
"Sign this bill and you have our word that when you reach a global agreement we'll put more money in the transit operations," Beard said. He said transit advocates have been reluctant to separate road funding from transit projects.
Dayton has been highly critical of Republican lawmakers for proposing a budget that cuts funding for transit. He says that would result in increased fares and a possible end to some transit lines.
A spokeswoman for Dayton said the governor does not intend to call a special session over transportation issues. She pointed to his repeated comments that he won't call a special session until there is agreement on a total budget deal.
Dayton has submitted a petition to Ramsey County District Court requesting a judge to continue core services. The list did not include road construction. Several Republicans argue Dayton's proposal is geared towards building pressure on Republican lawmakers to reach a budget deal with him.
"What the governor's plan seems to me is that he wants to inflict maximum
gain pain for political gain," Sen. Al DeKruif, R-Madison Lake, said.
Dayton has said his petition is not based on the projects he wants to fund but the projects that he thinks have to keep operating even if a shutdown occurs.(2 Comments)
Gov. Dayton's spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci says Dayton will file a petition with Ramsey County District Court on Wednesday that outlines what state services Dayton thinks should continue if the government shuts down on July 1. The filing will be the next step in the process of planning for a state shutdown.
The Department of Human Services notified more than 600,000 low income Minnesotans that state subsidized health insurance coverage, cash assistance, food support and child care assistance may be discontinued on July 1. The state also sent 36,000 layoff notices to state employees last week.
Dayton told reporters this afternoon that he's hoping he can reach a budget deal with GOP legislative leaders in time to avoid a shutdown but said the public has to weigh in if they're worried about a shutdown in services.
"There are going to be an enormous amount of very, very serious effects on many good people throughout the state," Dayton said. "This is, as I've been delving into it over the last couple of weeks, a terrible outcome for the state so it can be avoided."
Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are at odds over the best way to erase the state's $5 billion projected budget deficit. The two sides are $1.8 billion apart. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to balance the budget. Republicans say they can erase the deficit through spending cuts.
County officials, state employees and other groups are facing great uncertainty when it comes to planning for the shutdown. Beltrami County Administrator Tony Murphy says he doesn't know how what county services will continue if a shutdown occurs. He's worried that the county's 6,500 residents who receive state assistance will have questions for county staff. He said a lot of residents will overwhelm his staff.
"If they can't get those questions answered at the state and they're not used to taking their questions to state employees, they'll take those questions to county offices and county employees," Murphy said. "I think our biggest concern is that we don't really have answers to their questions. We don't really know what the plans for the state for the shutdown in any level of detail."
Murphy says he's planning to put more staff at the front counters and at the county phone banks with the hopes of handling questions from concerned residents. He said, however, that fewer employees will be able to process claims and other paperwork.
It isn't certain what services will continue if state government shuts down. Dayton's petition to the court will come just two days after Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a similar petition in court. The court is expected to act quickly on the requests since the services will be shuttered on July 1.
Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin told MPR News that she would not assign a judge to the case on Tuesday. She suggested it was unlikely she would take any action on the case until she receives Dayton's petition.
Republican leaders have scheduled a Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy meeting to discuss Dayton's shutdown plans on Wednesday morning.
Tinucci, with Dayton's office, says she expects Dayton to meet privately with GOP legislative leaders to discuss the budget impasse. It would be the first time the two sides would meet since last Wednesday.(2 Comments)
State agencies are sending out notices to contractors, vendors and grantees telling them that the state may not be making any payments if state government shuts down on July 1.
"As you may know, the Minnesota State Legislature adjourned on May 23, 2011, without appropriating money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2011," Department of Employment and Economid Development Commissioner Mark Phillips wrote in a letter.
The Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services made similar statements in letters to contractors.
The claim isn't exactly true. The GOP-controlled Legislature passed a complete budget, but Gov. Dayton vetoed all but one of the budget bills.
"We don't deny our budget reduced government spending," House GOP spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said. "We take issue with the level of blame being placed on the Legislature when the GOP budget kept government open, operating and providing paychecks to state employees at their current salaries for two years."
Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, issued a statement criticizing the letters.
"DEED's lie is shameful," Thompson said. "The Minnesota State Legislature adjourned on May 23, 2011, having passed the largest general fund budget in state history, which appropriated money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011. It is inconceivable that the Department of Employment and Economic Development, under Gov. Dayton's direction, did not know this fact. Therefore I must assume this is a deliberate attempt by DEED to spread misinformation about the work product of the Minnesota legislature. DEED Commissioner Mark Philips should issue a new, corrected letter to contractors, vendors and grantees reflecting that truth."
Officials within Dayton's Administration stand by the claim. They say the Legislature has not passed a bill into law so no appropriations can be spent (beyond the agriculture budget bill). When asked about the GOP claims, Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci pointed to Dayton's statement at last Wednesday's news conference:
"Their responsibility was to pass a budget that I would sign," Dayton told reporters on Wednesday. "A balanced budget that was a compromise between their ideals and what they believe their mandate to be and my ideals and what I know my mandate to be. And I'm willing to meet in the middle and they're just standing there saying, 'We'll just pass our budget, our way and then we're going home.' "
Tinucci said Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are planning to meet privately tomorrow to discuss the budget impasse.
Update: Dayton spokesman Bob Hume is also distributing a Department of Employee Relations letter from 2005 that used the exact same wording. The governor at that time was Republican Tim Pawlenty. Update: The House and Senate didn't send a complete budget to Pawlenty in 2005.(1 Comments)
Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, is taking issue with an effort to ask a judge to step in and keep some government services running if state government shuts down on July 1.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is asking a district court judge to rule that some government services should continue if state government shuts down on July 1. Swanson filed a petition today in Ramsey County Court asking a judge to grant authority to continue funding "essential services" like prisons, public safety and health care for the poor, elderly and disabled.
Winkler says he believes the petition is more sweeping than previous requests. He says the petition seeks too much power for cities, counties, state agencies and other units of government.
"This petition says each government unit can define for itself what a core function is," Winkler said. "And they present a bill to the state and the state has to pay it. So this is putting a small check on how money would be spent."
Winkler also questions whether it's constitutional for a judge to fund government agencies. He says that's the job of the Legislature and the governor.
"The Minnesota Constitution requires the Legislature and the governor to compromise and pass a balanced budget," Winkler said. "The idea that powers should be separated into three branches, and that each branch should serve as a check on the other branches, is fundamental to our system of government."
The courts did step in and appropriate money during the partial government shutdown in 2005. A lawsuit was filed to challenge the constitutionality of the process but the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected the challenge on constitutional grounds.
The court ruled that the lawsuit should have been filed earlier since then Gov. Pawlenty and the Legislature resolved their budget impasse before the court could act on it.
The Minnesota Attorney General's office today filed petitions in Ramsey County Court asking for legal authority to continue funding core government services if state government shuts down.
Citing state services including prisons, sex offender treatment and veterans homes, Attorney General Lori Swanson argues a government shutdown would deprive Minnesota citizens of rights guaranteed under the state and federal constitutions. She says the court should allow the executive branch to temporarily continue funding essential services even though the Legislature and governor have not agreed on a budget for the upcoming two years.
Swanson argues that prisons, probation, state health department disease monitoring, and health care for more than 600,000 people are all examples of essential services that should be allowed to continue.
She advises the court to select what's known as a special master to determine specifically what should be funded and even suggests former state Supreme Court Justice James Gilbert for that job. Government will shut down if Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature fail to reach a budget deal by July 1st.
Here's the petition...
Dayton issued this statement on Swanson's petition:
"The Governor's office will file its own petition to the Court, along with the critical services as designated by our contingency planning, this week."