Minn. gov asks court to order mediation to avoid state shutdown

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 15, 2011 12:23 PM
Minn. gov asks court to order mediation to avoid state shutdown

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, facing a potential shutdown of state government on July 1, on Wednesday asked a state court to appoint a mediator to help resolve differences over a new budget.

The Democratic governor also filed with the Ramsey County District Court his recommendations for state services that should continue during a shutdown, including state police patrols and certain health care programs.

"My evaluation of critical services has persuaded me even more deeply that a shutdown would have catastrophic consequences for a great many people throughout our state," Dayton said in a statement. "I remain fully committed to doing everything I can to reach a balanced compromise with the Legislature on a fair and balanced budget before July 1st in order to avoid a shutdown."

The governor suggested former state supreme court justices as possible mediators in his budget dispute with the Republican-controlled Legislature.

On May 24, Dayton vetoed budget bills passed by the Legislature, which rejected his $37.1 billion, two-year budget and its income-tax hike on wealthy residents to help erase a $5 billion deficit. Republicans instead opted for spending cuts even after Dayton offered to cut down his tax proposal.

Last week, layoff notices were sent to 36,000 workers in anticipation of a shutdown on July 1, the start of Minnesota's fiscal 2012-2013 biennium.

The last time that a budget impasse closed portions of Minnesota government was in 2005 when a former justice was tapped to mediate a budget dispute that led to a nine-day shutdown.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by James Dalgleish)