Minnesota Government Shuts Down After Budget Talks Fail

Jul 1, 2011, 18:32 by Sarah Long

Minnesota's government shut down Friday after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders failed to settle their budget differences.

State parks closed and entrances to rest areas were blocked. Boaters using Department of Natural Resources public landings were informed the landings wouldn't be monitored or maintained. First-time drivers will have to wait for their licenses, as will people facing a license renewal. Same with updating vehicle tabs.

Employees were told to take home any plants that couldn't survive without water for a time.

Talks broke off abruptly Thursday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Republican leaders rejected Dayton's proposal that would have raised income taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year -- an estimated 7,700 Minnesotans, or 0.3 percent of all taxpayers, state Revenue Department statistics indicate.

"This is a night of deep sorrow for me," Dayton said late Thursday in an address interrupted by hisses from some Republicans.

Republican leaders said Dayton's proposal for dealing with the projected $5 billion deficit would harm the state's economy for generations.

"We will not saddle our children and grandchildren with mounds of debts, with promises for funding levels that will not be there in the future," said House Speaker Kurt Zellers. "This is debt that they can't afford. It's debt that we can't afford right now."

As prospects of the historic government shutdown grew, Republicans staged a sit-in in legislative chambers, demanding that Dayton call a special session to keep the state running, the Star Tribune said.

Source: UPI