Dayton: Will concede to GOP to end Minn. shutdown

Published 10:46 am Thursday, July 14, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton offered Thursday to end a two-week government shutdown by accepting a Republican proposal to bring more money into Minnesota’s budget.

Dayton announced in Minneapolis that he will agree to an offer legislative Republicans made just before the shutdown started, if they agree to drop a list of policy changes and a plan to reduce the state workforce by 15 percent.

GOP leaders said they were reviewing the offer and had no immediate comment.

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The offer would raise $1.4 billion, half by delaying state aid checks to schools districts and the other half by selling tobacco payment bonds.

Dayton, who is offering to drop his proposal to raise top-tier income taxes, said he doesn’t like the Republican way out of the budget impasse.

“However, despite my serious reservations about your plan, I have concluded that continuing the state government shutdown would be even more destructive for too many Minnesotans,” he said in a letter to GOP leaders that he read aloud before a University of Minnesota audience.

“Therefore, I am willing to agree to something I do not agree with — your proposal — in order to spare our citizens and our state from further damage,” he added.

Dayton is also asking lawmakers to approve a construction projects bill totaling at least $500 million.

The shutdown has closed state parks and rest stops, prevented many people from getting licenses they need to launch careers or move ahead with businesses, and cut off funding streams to countless programs. It has also cost the state millions in lost revenue.