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Why Minnesota? Possible state shutdown mirrors larger US debate

With tax revenues still low, state and federal budgets are tight – and across the nation, politicians are drawing lines in the sand.

Workers erect a 'closed' sign over a highway rest stop sign near Hinckley, Minn., June 30. Minnesota's Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders are facing a state government shutdown if they cannot agree on a budget or extension by midnight Thursday. Services will shut down for the first time since 2005, including state parks for the Fourth of July weekend.

Eric Miller / Reuters

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The story has all the elements you're familiar with. Republican legislators determined to resist tax hikes. A Democratic chief executive casting himself as "meeting opponents halfway." And warnings that things could go terribly awry if the two camps can't reach a compromise – fast.

Yes, that sounds like Washington.

But it's also a description of capitol-dome maneuvering in Minnesota, which faces the prospect of a government shutdown if the clock ticks to midnight Thursday without a deal.

Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and Republicans who lead the state legislature entered a seventh straight day of budget talks late Thursday morning in St. Paul. The negotiations, following a six-month impasse over how to solve a $5 billion deficit, have so far failed to produce a breakthrough.

The 11th-hour talks echo events in the nation's capital, where President Obama suggested that members of Congress skip their July vacations and keep working if they can't reach a deal this week on funding the federal government.

The similarity between these two political rifts is more than just an interesting coincidence.

It's a sign that, for all the differences between state and national politics, state governments across the US share a common fiscal quandary with the nation at large.


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