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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Minnesota government shutdown could end in bipartisan compromise

The longest shutdown in Minnesota state history could end this week after the Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers struck a budget compromise following more than two weeks of standstill and a price tag of millions of dollars.

“This government shutdown had a rippling effect on individuals, families and businesses all
over Minnesota. Having an agreement in place is a certain sign of relief for those most adversely
affected by the shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said in a statement.

Gov. Mark Dayton, Koch and Speaker of the House Kurt
Zellers, R-Maple Grove, reached an agreement July 14 that fills a $1.4 billion budget gap by delaying
school aid checks and borrowing against future payments from a settlement with tobacco
companies, according to a statement from the governor.


The compromise did not include an increase in taxes, which Dayton pushed for throughout budget talks. According to the statement, Dayton accepted a suggestion that the Republican
controlled legislature had offered to stop a shutdown from occurring.

“Despite my serious reservations about [the Republican Legislature’s] plan, I have
concluded that continuing the state government shutdown would be even more destructive
for too many Minnesotans,” Dayton said. “Therefore, I am willing to agree to
something I do not agree with … in order to spare our citizens and our state from further

As part of the agreement, Dayton asked Republicans to drop a plan to cut the state workforce by
15 percent and to agree to a $500 million construction bond. The Republican leadership accepted.

Lawmakers are waiting to see the final version of the budget bill and how many
Republican and Democratic legislators might support it, Craig Westover, spokesperson for the
Minnesota Republican Party, said in an email to The Badger Herald.

“While individual Republicans have some objections to parts of the deal – as do many Democrats – the fact that there are no permanent sources of new tax revenue in the bill is significant and
supported by all Republicans,” Westover said. 

Beginning July 1, when Dayton and Republican lawmakers could not agree how to address
a budget shortfall, the shutdown closed state parks and rest stops, stopped road construction
projects and led to the layoffs of 23,000 state employees.

While the total cost of the shutdown is still unknown, economists
are estimating the shutdown to come with a price tag of more than $18 million, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities political science professor Larry Jacobs said. 

Still, a number of other factors may affect the total cost to the state. The state
has lost revenue from parks and lottery, but it is also not funding other costly programs, Minnesota State economist Tom
Stinson said.

If lawmakers hold a special session next week and pass the budget, state employees will return
to work. However, the Minnesota chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and
Municipal Employees, whose members include 18,000 state employees, remains
silent on whether they agree with the compromise.

“There’s nine bills being considered, and all we have now is a basic framework. So, we’re going
to sit tight and let the Legislature do their job,” AFSCME spokesperson Michael Kuchta said.

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