Around MN: not quite a marathon

Posted at 7:44 AM on June 27, 2011 by Michael Olson (0 Comments)

Reporters across the state are scratching their heads trying to figure out why the "marathon" budget talks ended abruptly on Sunday after Governor Mark Dayton and legislative leaders met for just over an hour.

Don Davis in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead writes:

It was not clear if the meeting broke up because of disagreements among the parties or if negotiations could continue Monday.

One thing both parties continue to agree on: keeping mum about the negotiations.

"The stakes for their negotiations could not be higher. Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin is expected to rule soon on what services - if any - the court can order to continue after July 1 if there isn't a legal two-year budget," reports the Star Tribune.

State Sen. Sean Nienow is among a group of Republicans urging Dayton to call a special session and let the legislature define what would remain open during a shutdown. Dayton doesn't support the so-called "lights on" approach.

Having trouble keeping tabs on the disagreements and common ground between Gov. Dayton and the legislature? Here's a document from MPR's Catherine Richert to help you out. [PDF]

"A hearing will be held this morning on whether state money should be allocated so the state's judiciary can continue running in case of a shutdown" Tom Scheck writes in the Daily Digest.

Road projects are among those that would be hardest hit by a shutdown. Mankato Free Press reports that a project there on Highway 14 would miss a critical deadline needing state action after July 8.

Blue Earth County plans to award a contract July 8 to begin moving soil for a Highway 14 interchange at County Road 12, which is being extended south.

Because the project is partially federally funded, the county cannot award the project until the state approves a requirement that 2.5 percent of the contract is given to minority-owned businesses, County Engineer Al Forsberg said.

The Grand Forks Herald ran an item from the AP that compares the shutdown in '05 to what would happen today.

-- Then. Highway rest areas closed, driver's license exams and other services halted and 9,000 state workers were locked out of their jobs. But the shutdown's reach was limited because budgets for parks, courts, prisons, colleges, farm programs and tax collectors were already in place. A judge ordered the state to continue providing services to protect health, safety and property.

-- Now. Minnesota's second shutdown would reach across state government, closing state parks to campers and day visitors as the Independence Day holiday weekend starts, stopping road projects at the height of the construction season and throwing tens of thousands of state employees out of work. It would also halt more obscure functions of government, such as licensing for teachers and other professionals and permits for businesses. Only a small sliver of the budget would be unaffected -- Dayton and lawmakers approved $76 million for farm programs back in April.

Employers continue to urge teachers and doctors to renew their licenses before July 1 so they can keep working post-shutdown.

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