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Minnesota Government Shuts Down As Republicans Refuse To Raise Taxes On Millionaires

Minnesota’s government will be shutdown over the Fourth of July weekend as the state’s Republican-controlled state legislature and Democratic governor failed to reach an agreement to close a $5 billion budget deficit before midnight. To close the deficit, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) proposed raising taxes on people making over $1 million a year. Republicans, who took control of both houses last November and campaigned on a platform of no tax increases, are digging in their heels and insist on reducing the deficit through major budget cuts.

This state battle closely mirrors the one on the national stage over the debt ceiling:

Without a two-year budget agreement in place, state parks and the Minnesota Zoo will be shut for the July 4 holiday weekend, nonemergency road construction will halt and thousands of state workers will be furloughed.

Government functions deemed critical by a county judge on Wednesday will keep operating, including the state patrol, prisons and the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor. Courts will stay open, and welfare and food-stamp payments will continue.[…]

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, a Republican, said late Thursday that the state’s health and human-services budget was a sticking point in the negotiations.

Ms. Koch was interrupted several times by protestors in the Capitol chanting, “Tax the rich!”

The effects were reportedly already being felt hours ahead of the deadline, as people rushed to get driver’s and fishing licenses, and “park officials began warning campers to pack their gear and leave.”

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Dayton is standing by his plan to raise taxes on millionaires in order to spare cuts in services to the most vulnerable residents. He told reporters late Thursday, “This is a night of deep sorrow for me because I don’t want to see this shutdown occur. But I think there are basic principles and the well-being of millions of people in Minnesota that would be damaged not just for the next week or whatever long it takes, but the next two years and beyond with these kind of permanent cuts in personal care attendants and home health services and college tuition increases.”

This is Minnesota’s second government shutdown in the last six years. The first occurred in 2005 under then-Governor Tim Pawlenty (R), and lasted only a few days. However, this year’s shutdown is “expected to become the broadest shutdown of state services in its history.”