MN Gov. Outlines State Gov’t Shutdown Plans, Asks Court To Appoint Mediator

In preparation for a looming state government shutdown in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) on Wednesday outlined his worst-case scenario plans.

In a petition filed in the Ramsey County District Court, Dayton called for the court to appoint a mediator to avoid shutdown. Dayton’s petition was in response to an one filed earlier by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.From the petition:

As discussed below, the Petition raises serious constitutional and statutory issues regarding the inherent powers of each of the three departments of state government. All three departments have strong reason to have the disagreement resolved by compromise, thereby avoiding both constitutional issues and a government shutdown.

Accordingly, the Governor requests that the Court immediately appoint a mediator to oversee and facilitate negotiations between the legislative majority, on the one hand, and the legislative minority and the Governor, on the other.

Dayton recommends two former members of the Minnesota Supreme Court to serve as mediator: former Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz or former Justice James Gilbert.

Among the services Dayton deemed critical in the petition include the Minnesota court system, budget services, public safety services, the state’s revenue department and veterans affairs. Services recommended to close include the state lottery, arts board, nursing home administration board and others. See the full list here.

“My decisions were not based upon personal preferences or policy considerations,” Dayton said in a statement. “Rather, they were instructed by the words of the Minnesota Constitution, which I took an oath of office to uphold, and ensuing case law. Agency heads, their staffs and the staff at the MN Department of Management and Budget and the Governor’s Office have spent many hours developing these recommendations.”

Minnesota is facing a $5 billion deficit, and a budget deal must be reached by the end of the month to avoid state government shutdown. A reminder of that looming deadline came last week when about 40,000 public employees received layoff notices.

Dayton said it was “with a heavy heart” that he submitted the petition Wednesday.

“I remain fully committed to doing everything I can to reach a balanced compromise with the Legislature on a fair and balanced budget before July 1st in order to avoid a shutdown.”

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