Saturday, July 16, 2011

Minnesota shutdown to end soon

The Minnesota State Capitol

Source: Press TV

Minnesota's Democratic governor has reached an agreement with the Republicans to end the bitter battle over balancing the state's budget that forced state services to shut down.

Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders struck a deal on Thursday to end the budget impasse after a three-hour negotiating session. The accord would now end the two-week-old state government shutdown over how to resolve a five-billion-dollar deficit, The Huffington Post reported.

The two sides also came to an understanding over a proposal that would increase USD 1.4 billion in new revenue. Half of the new state income would be collected by delaying state aid checks to school districts, and the other half would be earned by selling tobacco payment bonds.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, agreed to shelve a list of policy changes and a plan to slash the state workforce by 15 percent.

"It was about making sure that we get a deal that we can all be disappointed in, but a deal that is done, a budget that was balanced, a state that was back to work," Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers said.

Dayton told reporters the shutdown was expected to end "within days," and the government would be back in business "very soon." He, however, did not mention the exact time.

The date of a special legislative session to pass a budget, and end the shutdown has not been set. Some terms of the deal still need to be discussed.

The Minnesota shutdown started at 12:01 a.m. local time (1801 GMT) on July 1 because of a dispute over taxes and spending between Democrats and Republicans.

Thousands of state workers were affected by the shutdown.

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