ST. PAUL (AP) - State agency commissioners in the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton are preparing for a possible state government shutdown in case the governor and legislative Republicans can't settle on a state budget by the end of June.

Dayton discussed the issue Thursday in a Cabinet meeting. State budget director Jim Showalter says agency heads were told to begin preparing lists of which state employees and functions they consider "essential" in a shutdown.

Showalter says the top priorities are to continue protecting the safety and health of citizens. A court will ultimately decide what's essential.

A shutdown would likely leave tens of thousands of state workers without paychecks and result in the closing of state parks, a temporary halt to expensive highway construction projects and other noticeable consequences.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)