POLITICS

Minnesota Shutdown 2011: State Government Shuts Down

The post and live blog below are a collaboration between Patch and HuffPost reporters.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) and top Republican state lawmakers failed to reach a budget deal to avert a government shutdown ahead of a midnight (CST) deadline.

"I really believe I've done everything I possibly could and offered everything I could possibly think of," said Dayton addressing the state of the negotiations from his office on Thursday night. "This is a night of deep sorrow for me because I don't want to see this shutdown occur."

The Democratic governor and state GOP lawmakers had been engaged in contentious talks to close 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.

The AP relays background on the discussions:

Negotiations between Dayton and legislative leaders were fitful, starting and stopping with no outward signs of progress, and details were scant, since the two sides agreed to what they jokingly called "the cone of silence." By Thursday night, Dayton and Republicans had not met for hours, leading Senate Democratic Leader Tom Bakk to remark that any hope for a last-minute deal to avert the shutdown had appeared to "disintegrate."
...
The showdown was something of a small-stage version of the drama taking shape in Washington between President Barack Obama and the Republicans over taxes and the nation's debt ceiling.

At a news conference at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Thursday, Pawlenty urged Republican lawmakers in his home state to hold their ground in negotiations to strike a budget deal.

"This country needs to get its government finances under control," he said. "That needs to happen in Washington, D.C., and that needs to happen in St. Paul, Minnesota."

A shutdown of the Minnesota government comes as the state's second in six years.

Below, a live blog of the latest developments to unfold amid the shutdown threat.