No Sign Of Budget Deal As MN Lawmakers Dig In Their Heels

Minnesota lawmakers took the holiday weekend to cool off from the heated budget negotiations that led to the state’s government shutdown last week.

But the time apart hasn’t eased the deadlock. Lawmakers are grappling over how to close a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Republicans — who control the state’s legislature — want to balance the budget with spending cuts, while Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is looking to combine spending cuts with a tax increase on Minnesota’s millionaires.As the Star Tribune reports, politicians on both sides of the aisle are digging in their heels.

“It’s a deadlock,” Republican state Sen. Mike Parry told the Star Tribune. “And I’m telling you, the majority party in the Senate, we’re strong. And we’re going to stay strong.”

Democratic State Sen. John Marty urged Dayton to “hang tough,” saying the spending cuts Republicans are calling for would be “way too brutal.”

Negotiations picked back up Tuesday when Dayton met with Republican lawmakers. While Dayton called the meeting “constructive,” it wasn’t enough to reach a deal. More negotiations are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Trying to shepherd a budget deal, two high-profile Minnesotan politicians entered the fray Tuesday. Former Minnesota Gov. Arnie Carlson and former Vice President Walter Mondale announced the formation of a panel that will work toward a solution, the Star Tribune reports.

“Today, we are being challenged,” said Mondale. “A spirit of compromise is necessary…We’re in a place where both sides have to sit down and think freshly about how we can come out with a result that serves Minnesota.”

The panel will consist of business leaders, former legislators, a professor and a city manager, according to Reuters. The bipartisan panel will begin meeting Wednesday.

Dayton spoke to Minnesota Public Radio Tuesday morning, his first public remarks since the shutdown.

“This is a terrible situation,” he said, adding that he hopes the shutdown will bring out the moderates from both parties in order to reach a compromise. On the Republicans’ refusal to accept increased tax revenue on the very wealthiest Minnesotans, Dayton said he is “mystified.”

“There just are very limited sources of so-called non-tax revenues,” he said.

Minnesota’s state parks and rest stops remain closed. The Minnesota Zoo was initially ordered to close down, but it has since been able to reopen using its own revenue from admission fees and concessions. About 22,000 state employees are furloughed. But Taxes are still being collected throughout the shutdown.

Dayton earlier this week filed a request to the Ramsey County District Court to expand the state services offered during the shutdown. Dayton’s request, via MPR, includes:

  • Special education aid.
  • Chemical dependency and mental health services.
  • HIV case management and counseling services.
  • Services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes.
  • Child care assistance.
  • Services for the homeless, the disabled, and other vulnerable Minnesotans.
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