Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Minnesota Governor Proposes End to Shutdown - but Will Republicans Bite?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Minnesota Governor Proposes End to Shutdown - but Will Republicans Bite?

Article excerpt

Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is telling Republican leaders he will accept a Republican budget plan, but with conditions. The climate in Minnesota could hold lessons for the debt talks in Washington.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is telling Republican leaders he will "reluctantly" concede to offers they first made two weeks ago to solve the $5 billion budget deficit and, as a result, end the state government shutdown, which is now the longest in US history. But the budget battle may not be over yet.

In a letter sent Thursday to House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate majority leader Amy Koch, both Republicans, Governor Dayton said he made his decision not because he agreed with the Republican plan, but primarily to end the shutdown. The GOP plan includes increasing the amount of deferred school payments and borrowing from future tobacco settlement payments, the combination of which will drive down the deficit by $1.4 billion.

"Despite my serious reservations about your plan, I have concluded that continuing the state government shutdown would be even more destructive for too many Minnesotans," the governor wrote. "Therefore, I am willing to agree to something I do not agree with - your proposal - in order to spare our citizens and our state from further damage."

Dayton's letter, however, came with conditions. He outlined three proposals that he said he wanted Republicans to approve: a construction projects bill totaling $500 million, the removal from the budget bill of all policy changes on social issues, and the elimination of a 15 percent cut for state workers.

Dayton and the state's Republican leaders agreed to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss the letter.

Republicans have not declared victory yet, which is evidence of the contentious relationship between the executive and legislative branches in the state. Tensions have only heightened since the arrival of the GOP's freshmen class of lawmakers, the majority of whom have the backing of the tea party.

Since the government shut down two weeks ago, both parties have managed to get together only twice to discuss compromise proposals offered by Dayton. …

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