Shutdown's eighth day passes with no talks, no movementby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota's state government shutdown is headed into its second week, and Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders appear no closer to a budget deal. The two sides didn't meet today, and there are no meetings scheduled for this weekend.
The last budget offer came on Wednesday, when Gov. Dayton said he was open to a temporary income tax increase on people making more than $1 million, or a cigarette tax increase of $1 a pack. Republicans quickly rejected the proposal.
Since then, Dayton and his staff say they're waiting for Republicans to make an offer. Republican Speaker Kurt Zellers says he'd like to see Dayton call the Legislature back into a special session so they can end the shutdown with a stopgap budget plan.
"We can then have that temporary funding, which will be another deadline. I can understand the governor's perspective that we need a deadline. This will give us another deadline," said Zellers. Getting us into a special session and then being able to pass some of these bills -- whether they come to final agreement or are still a few dollars off, that would be the first best step for us."
Zellers says he also wants to see more specifics from Dayton on where he wants to spend the extra revenue he's seeking. Dayton says he's reluctant to call lawmakers back into special session until there's a complete budget deal.
The governor and GOP leaders are more than $1 billion apart on their budget plans. Both sides are working to erase a $5 billion budget deficit.
Democrats are criticizing Republicans for not presenting any budget offers since the shutdown started last week. DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen says he's frustrated that Republicans haven't put anything on the table. But he said the GOP offers from last week show that the two sides should be able to cut a deal quickly -- if they start meeting.
"As we went into shutdown, the Republicans agreed to take all social issues off of the table, and we also agreed that we need a little more than $1 billion in new revenue to reach a deal," said Thissen. "The only question is how you fill in that $1 billion plus in new revenue. It seems like that's a problem we can solve if we can actually put our heads together."
Thissen says House Democrats don't like the GOP plan to delay more K-12 payments to schools and borrow against future tobacco payments, but he says there is also pressure to make sure the budget gets done and the shutdown ends.
Both sides could be feeling a little bit more urgency next week. That's because state employees receive their last paychecks on July 15 and will then be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.
- All Things Considered, 07/08/2011, 4:50 p.m.