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Minnesota government shuts down over deficit woes

by Adam Russett on July 1, 2011

State parks won't be open and dozens of agencies and thousands of state employees won't be coming into work for the foreseeable future in Minnesota, because the government has officially shut down. While safety services and others deemed "essential" will continue to function, this instance only serves to highlight the fierce partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats. 

At its core, the issue is about how to balance the deficit. Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has tried to push for a blend of tax increases on Minnesota's wealthy residents and spending slashes. Republicans, on the other hand, want to invest all of the reduction into cutting programs.

"The major difference remains the same," Dayton said during a press conference last night, according to Bloomberg. "It is the difference between my balanced approach of significant spending cuts combined with tax increases only on the very wealthiest Minnesotans versus the Republicans' all-cuts budget."

Republicans are opposed to any kind of tax increase. Most members of the party oppose such a move on the grounds that it will deter job creators from moving to the area and could discourage wealthier people from investing.

The Republicans in Minnesota control the House and tried to pass 10 budget bills – for a total of $34 billion – in May, but Dayton vetoed all of them except legislation that promoted spending in the Agriculture Department.

Former Minnesota Governor and Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty took to the stage to make the most of the moment, reflecting on the previous government shutdown in 2005.

“I think it was nine days [of shutdown] at that time, and I think we could have gotten a better deal if we had allowed that to continue for a while and the people of Minnesota would have seen the issues play out a little longer," he said, Politico reports. 

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