As Governor Mark Dayton and legislative leaders continue to spar over the $5 billion budget deficit, other states around the country are also facing serious challenges in their efforts to avoid a state government shutdown of their own.
Many states are facing fundamental differences during budget negotiations. Similar to Minnesota’s situation, California, Nevada, New Jersey, and North Carolina all face divided power among parties, a large budget shortfall with Democrat proposals to raise taxes, and Republicans opposing the proposed tax hikes.
In North Carolina the Democratic Governor and Republican majorities in both bodies in the legislature recently made progress on a budget compromise, even after they failed to agree on one continuing resolution late last month.
Closer to home, Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad and the Republican controlled House have clashed with the Democrat controlled Senate over a potential July 1 shutdown if a budget agreement is not reached. House Republicans have proposed a 2% spending increase in education as a compromise with the Senate Democrats’ proposal to increase spending in several key areas, while Branstad’s plan has been to keep funding at current levels. These points of contention exist between the three sides even with a nearly $1 billion in state reserves.
Democrat majorities in the New Jersey House and Senate have clashed with Republican Governor Chris Christie over education funding and his stance against raising taxes, even though recent revenue forecasts show an additional $500 million increase in tax revenue. For New Jersey, the increased revenue may be enough to broker a deal between the two sides.
While progress has been made in some states, the outlook for others, including Minnesota, is less encouraging.
Governor Dayton has continued to acknowledge the likelihood of a government shutdown in light of the current budget impasse, though lawmakers called Friday’s meetings “very productive.” Dayton referred to the meetings as “just for show” until Republicans indicate their willingness to budge from their $34 billion budget offer. GOP House and Senate leaders resume negotiations with Dayton this evening at the Governor’s residence.
Minnesota Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) said Friday in an interview there is a genuine “philosophical difference” between the GOP and the Democrat Governor, and called the claim the GOP hasn’t compromised is “disingenuous.”
A new legislative schedule lays out plans for a final budget agreement on June 21 with a special session starting June 27, though Dayton has repeatedly said he is not inclined to call a special session without a deal in place. A budget must be reached by July 1 to avoid a state government shutdown.
PHOTO BY CHARLES BEST