Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Go to Session 2005
Session 2005
State shutdown
MPR's Votetracker
Minnesota Legislature Web site
Health Care
Social issues
More from MPR


Back to work for legislative leaders, governor
Larger view
"We need to fix it today," said Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson on Friday morning. "As far as I'm concerned, a one-day partial government shutdown is enough." (MPR Photo/Michael Khoo)
Saturday is the second day of a state government shutdown and state lawmakers are scheduled to hold floor sessions. Lawmakers are in a budget stalemate over health care, education funding and taxes. They failed to pass an overall budget by 12:01 Friday morning, causing a partial government shutdown. Gov. Pawlenty and legislative leaders say they're ready to resume budget negotiations so 9,000 furloughed state employees can go back to work.

St. Paul, Minn. — Lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Friday sleepy-eyed and grouchy that they were a part of the first government shutdown in state history. Democrats blamed Republicans for not passing a bill that would keep government running at current spending levels.

Republicans, like Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna, said the shutdown was caused by Senate Democrats who abruptly adjourned two-and-a-half hours before the budget deadline.

"We want the DFL to throw the Randy Moss playbook out and don't always go home before the game's over," he said. "And we can't talk like we're in Bulgaria and you can only talk 10 minutes. We can't offer amendments. What the hell is this all about?"

As the day moved on, lawmakers started settling down. Gov. Pawlenty says lawmakers need to set aside their personal and professional differences and reach a budget agreement.

"There are lots of subissues here but we have to put the interests of the state first. And as leaders and public servants we have to put the interests of the state first. As leaders and public servants we have to focus on getting the people's work done," Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty says he wants to step back from budget negotiations and allow the leaders of the House and Senate Taxes Committee to negotiate a spending package. That may be difficult since Republican Rep. Phil Krinkie and DFL Sen. Larry Pogemiller are at the opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Pawlenty also said budget negotiations are back at square one but he's not ruling any previous proposals in or out.

DFL Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson of Willmar says the Senate hopes to pass a bill on Saturday that would keep government running at last year's budget levels.

"My inclination is that it's appropriate that would have a backstop and safety net to a partial government shutdown while we negotiate the larger budget items," according to Johnson.

Johnson says it's likely the Senate will take the rest of the July Fourth weekend off. Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum says the House is only meeting on Saturday because they agreed earlier that the House and Senate would meet on the same days during a special session. He believes the Senate is only meeting on the weekend to show that they want to end the gridlock.

"The reason that the Democrats need to come into tomorrow is that they need to save some face in regard to the fiasco of closing down government and adjourning on Thursday the way they did," Sviggum says.

Sviggum says it's unlikely that the House will support a bill that continues to fund government unless they have an overall budget deal first. He says a continuing resolution will take pressure off of budget negotiations.

That upsets Ellen Paquin, who works for the Department of Human Services and is out of work because of the shutdown.

"They left me and a whole bunch of other clerical workers and invididuals who don't make that much money, who are on paycheck to paycheck because we haven't had a raise in three years. Prices are going up; we're on beans and rice," she said.

The Department of Employee Relations says 500 state employees have no vacation to get them through the shutdown. That number will increase by 250 employees every day as employee vacation times dry up.