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A taste of public opinion on the state shutdown
Larger view
The carousel at the Taste of Minnesota seems an apt metaphor for the budget talks at the Capitol -- they both keep going around in circles. (MPR Photo/Annie Baxter)
As we kick off the Fourth of July, some people are marking another "fourth" on their calendars. It's the fourth day of Minnesota's partial government shutdown. Last week, Gov. Pawlenty and legislative leaders failed to agree on a new two-year budget. As a result, about 9,000 state workers have been temporarily laid off. We talked to folks at the Taste of Minnesota to find out what they think.

St. Paul, Minn. — The shutdown made for dramatic moments this past week-- but mostly at the state Capitol. Politicians were scampering about in search of solutions to the budget impasse. And activists clogged the halls to protest potential funding cuts for nonprofit agencies like battered women's shelters.

But a number of people visiting the Taste of Minnesota at Harriet Island in St. Paul over the weekend said they're barely fazed by the shutdown.

"I've only heard it on the news, and I know it's shut down, but I don't know why or exactly what's going on," says Lin Lin. "But now that you've asked me, I'm going to go find out."

"I'm not affected except that I have an opinion," says Bethel Kordosky. "Fire 'em!"

Kordosky says she has been tracking the news of the shutdown, and it's made her pretty upset at the legislators.

"(They're a) bunch of spoiled kids having tantrums," she says. "If everybody else has to go without pay, they should go without pay."

Kordosky doesn't blame either party for the current impasse. She says both sides are at fault.

Robert Miller of Edina agrees. He says it takes two to tango. And he adds that the only thing that really matters is that people are out of work.

"That's not right. We need to take care of that," he says. "There are people out of work that shouldn't be out of work."

Though many people surveyed expressed sympathy for the laid-off workers, they said the shutdown simply doesn't touch their own lives. Many popular state services, including the park system, were spared from the chopping block.

Larry Rufledt says he's not in need of the services that have been cut, such as drivers license renewals. He believes legislators are aware that the shutdown has limited effects.

"And that may be why they did it," Rufledt says. "It may be symbolic that not much of Minnesota is affected by it except for downtown Minneapolis or downtown St. Paul. As long as the parks are open. You notice they passed that one very quickly."

Rufledt says the problem with Minnesota politics is that it tries to please too many people. But he says he sees a solution.

"If Minnesota would just vote Republican, it would all be settled. Just one party, it'd be a lot simpler," Rufledt says.

That won't happen any time soon -- especially given the state's polarized Legislature. With the Senate dominated by Democrats and the House dominated by Republicans, the two sides seem to be pitted against each other.

Both sides will reconvene for further talks Tuesday.

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