Minnesota government shuts down as budget talks stall

July 1, 2011

From Leslie Tripp, CNN

(CNN) — The Minnesota government was forced to shut down for the second time in six years after lawmakers failed to meet a budget agreement Thursday before a midnight deadline.

Gov. Mark Dayton held a news conference to announce an impasse in budget talks two hours before the midnight deadline.

“This is a night of deep sorrow for me,” Dayton said.

The governor, who ran on a platform of taxing the rich, wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1.9% of Minnesotans, as well as cut spending.

Shortly after Dayton held the news conference, House and Senate Republicans met with the media and accused the governor of “throwing in the towel” with two hours to go.

“This is very disappointing, very disheartening,” House Speaker Kurt Zellers said.

Zellers told reporters that budget talks were much closer than Dayton previously said.

This is the second time in six years the Minnesota government has been forced to shut down after budget talks failed.

The last shutdown was in 2005, when Tim Pawlenty was governor.

The shutdown means 46 state boards and agencies will be closed, with minimal staffing at 29 others, according to CNN affiliate WCCO.

Residents are already feeling the impact.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation had shut down more than 80 highway rest stops by Thursday afternoon.

State parks and the zoo are also set to be closed. Emergency and disaster agencies, Minnesota State Patrol, the state court system and the prison system are a few of the agencies that will remain open.


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