Negotiations are going down to the wire in Minnesota as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and top state Republican lawmakers work to strike a budget deal to avert a government shutdown ahead of a midnight (CST) deadline.
Little progress was made in talks late Wednesday night, Fridley Patch reports, Dayton and the Minnesota Republicans face the task of closing the state's $5 billion budget gap -- much of it left behind by GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, who declined to seek a third term in the 2010 election.
HuffPost's Matt Sledge reports:
Dayton is proposing progressive income tax increases to fix the state budget, which faces a huge gap over the next two years, while the GOP is demanding further spending cuts. Both sides said they were attempting to compromise. But time is running out, and even if an agreement is reached Thursday, it may not come soon enough to avoid a partial shutdown.
Today 2:10 PM Unemployment Benefits Will Continue
Minnesota's unemployed will still receive their benefits even if a shutdown stretches beyond the July 4 weekend, according to the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development. A judge's order Wednesday deemed unemployment insurance a core critical function of state government.
That would be a good thing for the 20,000+ state workers who would be out of a job in the event of a shutdown. Their unemployment might be temporary, but it would not, technically, count as a furlough, so they would be able to apply for unemployment benefits. If that happens, the Department warns, "the number of new applications for benefits may be much larger than usual."
Two people who would still be employed by the people of Minnesota have nonetheless announced that they will not draw a paycheck if a shutdown happens. Both Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch have announced that they will decline to cash their checks.
-- Matt Sledge
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