ST. PAUL  (AP) - A Ramsey County judge has denied Gov. Mark Dayton's request to order stalled budget talks into mediation.

Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled against the Democratic governor's request Thursday during a hearing expected to address the size and scope of a looming government shutdown.

The move was opposed by lawyers for the Republican-controlled Legislature and Attorney General Lori Swanson, a Democrat.

Gearin says the executive and legislative branches of government have "institutional competency" to resolve the budget impasse.

The judge was also considering a petition from four Republican senators asking the court to stay out of the budget process. They argue that court-ordered funding for critical state services would violate the constitutional separation of powers.

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