With less than three hours to go until a state government shutdown, state lawmakers are making some last minute moves to avoid blame for failing to finish their work.
Nearly every Republican in the Minnesota House marched into the House chambers to show that they are ready to work. The move is ceremonial since that work can’t be done until Gov. Dayton calls lawmakers back into a special session. Dayton has refused to do so until a full budget agreement is reached. Despite that stance, GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean says Dayton should call a special session so the Legislature should pass a “lights on” bill to keep government running.
“We need the governor to call us back into a special session,” Dean said. “The governor is the only guy who can get this thing started and he’s the only one who has the keys to get us started.”
Dean said “it’s pretty obvious” that they are at a critical point” as the clock ticks closer to midnight.
DFL House Majority Leader Paul Thissen criticized Republicans are more interested in “political theater” than getting a budget deal done.
“Instead of playing mock Legislature the Republicans should be working to get a balanced and fair budget negotiated,” Thissen said.
The two sides have sharpened their rhetoric as the clock ticks closer to the midnight deadline. They are arguing over the best way to enact a two year budget that includes a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Gov. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota’s top earners. Republicans are proposing to erase the deficit through spending cuts.
Neither side has released specifics on where budget negotiations stand.
Update: Gov. Dayton will deliver a speech at 10pm on the shutdown.