Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's three top budget negotiators walked from the governor's office Thursday evening to announce a state budget deal, frowning like their best friend just died. In a way, each had lost a political friend: Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Back in 2005, when Minnesota faced a smaller government shutdown than it is enduring today, individual legislators tried to find a solution to budget problems. They met in "rump" groups (a small part of the legislative body with no real authority) to draw up ideas about how to balance the budget. Those rump groups failed in 2005, and apparently none even formed this year. That leaves Republican legislative leaders the only option in budget negotiations with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. "People recognize it is the governor against the leadership of the Legislature," Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's news media have inundated the state's residents in recent days with government shutdown news. Special master. Taxes. Offer. Rejection. Non-profits. Blind services. Zoo. Licenses. Closed. It is too much for a person to comprehend. But the main reason for the shutdown is as simple as what breaks up so many marriages: How much money should be spent? In many minds, a secondary reason is inexperience of the main players. But first things first: Chief budget negotiators (Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Count many Minnesota legislators among those who expect a long government shutdown. "My gut tells me that if this goes two weeks, it will go until January," Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker said. Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, added that a quick end to the shutdown is not likely: "I'm not real optimistic at the moment.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota state government is in a partial shutdown and the first budget negotiations in days resulted in nothing more than an agreement to meet again. When Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton was asked what can be done to reach a budget deal with Republican leaders, his only response was: "That's our challenge. ...
ST. PAUL - Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican leaders meet this afternoon today to restart budget talks and end the state government shutdown, but there was no hope of quick deal. Dayton asked for the meeting and Senate Republicans confirmed the invitation has been accepted. In the meantime, some former Minnesota government leaders suggested forming a committee of ex-policymakers to work out a budget deal. And today was the day people could begin feeling a shutdown.
ST. PAUL -- No Minnesotan should be surprised that state government is closed. The topic even arose in last year's governor debates, of course with all candidates saying they did not support a shutdown. News accounts mentioned the possibility as the legislative session began at the first of the year. A House committee discussed shutdown ramifications the second week of January. And Gov. Mark Dayton devoted quite a bit of time in his Feb.
ST. PAUL -- The most noticeable impact of Minnesota's government shutdown was predictable: state park users on a holiday weekend. "We're 400 miles away from home," said one father at the entrance to Gooseberry Falls State Park Friday as his children piled out of a van to walk down to the falls. The park, one of the state's most popular, technically was closed after state leaders failed to agree on a budget for the two years beginning Friday.