Entries in State Budget (2)


Minnesota Government Open Again for Business

DC Productions/Thinkstock(ST. PAUL, Minn.) -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a budget plan Wednesday, ending the country’s longest state shutdown in a decade.

The approval came after a final legislative session that dragged on late into the night.

Minnesota closed all its state parks, suspended its lottery system, blockaded highway rest stops, suspended Department of Motor Vehicles operations, shut down approximately 100 road construction projects, closed state offices and laid off some 22,000 state workers on July 1 after Republican and Democratic lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a new two-year budget.

The dispute in Minnesota mirrored the battle being waged in Washington over debt ceiling legislation.  Republicans sought significant spending cuts to erase a $5 billion deficit while the Democrats, including Gov. Dayton, sought to close the shortfall by raising taxes for the state’s wealthiest individuals.

In the end, a compromise was reached that calls for a budget of $35.7 billion over the next two years.  It’s more than state Republicans wanted, but many GOP lawmakers praised the final plan because it doesn't raise any taxes.

To come up with the last $1.4 billion of the spending plan, the state plans to borrow some $640 million against future payments from a legal settlement with the tobacco industry and also delay $700 million in state aid payments to local school districts.  Many members of both parties criticized the compromise, saying it simply pushes Minnesota’s financial problems into the future.

Gov. Dayton said he was “not entirely happy” with the deal, but did acknowledge it “gets Minnesota back to work.”

Officials estimate it may take several weeks for state agencies to clear up backlogs of paperwork and get current on business.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Protesters Vacate Capital After Judge's Orders

ABC News Radio(MADISON, Wis.) -- Pro-union protesters in Wisconsin left the state Capitol in Madison Thursday night for the first time in over two weeks after a judge ordered them to vacate the building.

Judge John Albert in Dane County, Wisconsin ruled that people are allowed to attend hearings at the Capitol and enter the building during normal business hours, but not to sleep there overnight when it normally is closed, according to ABC News affiliate WKOW in Madison, Wisconsin.

The judge also said the public will be allowed back inside when normal business hours resume at 8 a.m. Monday, prompting some protesters to claim a legal victory.

At least 100 protesters were in the building Thursday in opposition to proposals by Republicans that would roll back union rights for many public workers.

Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a two-week budget standoff that has paralyzed the Wisconsin state capitol and touched off a national debate on how best to deal with growing government debt.

Earlier Thursday, the state's Republican governor, Scott Walker, said layoff notices to at least 1,500 Wisconsin state workers would start going out as early as Friday if the state legislature doesn't pass a controversial "budget-repair bill" that calls for the stripping away of state employees' collective bargaining rights.

As Walker threatened layoffs, his colleagues in the state Senate filed a contempt order against 14 Democrats who fled the state and made it impossible for a new budget to pass.  Republicans hold a 19-14 majority in the body, but must have 20 members present to vote on Walker's proposal. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio