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Minnesota Lawmakers, Governor Race to Avert State Government Shutdown Tonight

Minnesota State Capitol
Flickr user TBoard

High legislative drama is playing out at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul today as lawmakers race to avert a state government shutdown.

Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature are trying to shore-up a $5-billion budget shortfall and approve a new 2-year budget. Because the legislature’s not in session, the Governor and leadership need to come to agreement, call lawmakers into special session and approve a deal before the midnight deadline tonight.

If they don’t, much of Minnesota’s state government will close.

Both sides have been negotiating behind closed doors, creating a so-called “cone of silence” by refusing to discuss what progress has been made in talks. But House Majority Leader Matt Dean told last night he believes a deal is still possible:

“We’re very, very close on many, many areas and we still believe that a shutdown is unnecessary and avoidable,” he said. “Two weeks ago, it was avoidable; last week, it was even more avoidable; we believe that, at this point, it would be very difficult to explain a shutdown, so we believe we are very close. We’re going to continue working.”

Even if a deal is approved, holiday travellers won’t be able to use the state’s wayside rest facilities this weekend. The State Transportation Department is already closing the rest stops even as lawmakers race against the clock to avert a shutdown Friday.

Other immediate impacts:

— Holiday campers to Minnesota state parks are in limbo today. Those parks will close without a new budget. Many would-be campers have already changed their weekend plans.

— Lines are reportedly long today at some Minnesota outlets for licenses for fishing and driving. Licensing centers would close in a government shutdown.

— Tens of thousands of non-essential state government employees would be furloughed across the state.

— Most state highway and state-funded construction projects will be suspended.

See a list of services closed or suspended as well as those which will remain open.

See previous stories on the state government shutdown.

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