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Minnesota government shuts down as budget talks stall

From Leslie Tripp, CNN
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Government shuts down in Minnesota
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Republican and Democrat-Farmer-Labor leaders blame each other for shutdown
  • Minnesota government shuts down for the second time in six years
  • Gov. Mark Dayton says it's a night of "deep sorrow"
  • Republicans accuse Dayton of "throwing in the towel" before deadline ends

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

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

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

The governor, a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1.9% of Minnesotans, as well as cut spending.

Republicans accused the governor of giving up too soon.

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said in a statement issued by her office Friday that Republicans had "100 matched" some of Dayton's funding requests. She called the governor's decision a "major disappointment."

State budget battle in Minnesota
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"We met several times in order to bridge the gap between our differences over more complicated areas of the budget and left thinking that a budget agreement was imminent," she said. "Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton has chosen to prioritize his rigid, tax-and-spend ideology, rather than prioritize the best interests of Minnesotans as we move into the holiday weekend."

Republicans had proposed passing a temporary funding bill while they worked out their remaining differences with Dayton.

"This is very disappointing, very disheartening," House Speaker Kurt Zellers said after Dayton's news conference.

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

The state Democratic-Farmer-Labor party blamed Republicans for the shutdown, accusing them of stubbornly favoring millionaires over other Minnesota residents.

"Minnesotans deserve more than what the GOP has forced upon them with this government shutdown," party chair Ken Martin said in a statement. "Our state's residents deserve much more than the devastating cuts to education, health care, public safety, and other vital services that the Republicans are digging in their heels to enact."

The last government 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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