6:57pm

Thu June 30, 2011
The Two-Way

Minnesota Faces Government Shutdown Over Budget Impasse

Steeped in a debate that sounds a lot like the one happening on the national stage, Minnesota is hours away from a government shutdown. State lawmakers have been unable to reach a compromise on how to close the state's $5 billion budget gap.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

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

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

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican leaders met today trying to beat the clock, which expires at midnight.

The Christian Science Monitor takes the long view and points out that what's happening is Minnesota is simply symbolic of "fiscal quandary" facing the nation and that each party wants to fix using its own ideology:

For Republicans, that means holding the line against tax hikes, even if that requires sharp reductions in spending. For Democrats, it means shared sacrifice that involves higher taxes on the rich – and sometimes others – along with spending cuts.

In some cases, the result is a game of political chicken like what's going on in Minnesota.

Republicans swept to power campaigning against tax and spending increases, while Governor Dayton won with a message of raising taxes on the highest earners.

If the politicians don't come to an agreement by 12:01 a.m. Friday, Minnesota's government would shutdown for the first time since 2005.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.