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Minnesota Shutdown Over: Government Budget Dispute Resolved (LATEST UPDATES)

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MINNESOTA SHUTDOWN 2011

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

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a new budget Wednesday, ending the nation's longest state government shutdown in the past decade.

Dayton's signature came just hours after lawmakers gave their own approval to the deal after meeting in special session that started Tuesday afternoon and lasted until early Wednesday morning. All sides formalized an agreement that Dayton struck with leading Republicans late last week.

The two sides argued bitterly over taxes and spending for months. When government shut down July 1, it closed state parks and rest stops, laid off 22,000 state employees, stopped road projects and much more.

The end to the shutdown began when Dayton moved last week to accept a borrowing plan offered by the GOP shortly before the stoppage began.

Below, a live blog of the latest developments to unfold in Minnesota.

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Rep. Kurt Bills writes today on Rosemount Patch:

"A true budget solution not only balances our bottom line today, but it puts us on track for sustainability. The state budget package we passed this week gets us pointed in the right direction."

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Patch's Jeff Roberts reports:

“Welcome back. We missed you,” was the first thing Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr said before announcing that the opening of Minnesota state parks, forests and facilities is ahead of schedule. Originally scheduled to open at 8 a.m. Friday morning, Landwehr reported that as of 11 a.m. Thursday morning, 11 state parks are fully open, with an additional 15 parks partially open.

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Apple Valley Patch's Allison Wickler reports:

School administrators for District 196 will be meeting today to learn more about the state budget’s impact on local education. "I would say it’s certainly going to have an impact on schools," said Tony Taschner, communications director for Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan public school district.

The state government opened for business Thursday, a day after Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law budget bills that will affect everything from schools to health care in terms of state operations. Taschner said Thursday that a delay in school funding is "just further... delaying the problem."

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The AP reports:

Minnesota state workers returning to their offices after a three-week government shutdown will soon have to start processing a host of policy changes included in a pile of budget bills passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

One major change in the education budget bill is a new method of evaluating public school teachers that more closely ties their job status to student performance. The new system won't be fully in place until 2014.

Supporters say it's aimed as much at rewarding good teachers as disciplining bad ones. But the chief Senate sponsor says it should give local districts more latitude to get teachers out of classrooms if they consistently fail to improve student performance.

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Minnesota Public radio reports:

After three weeks of a government shutdown during which more than 20,000 state workers sat at home laid off, and state parks, rest stops and countless other operations sat idle, many Minnesotans are angry the people they elected to balance the state budget failed to do so.

Again, Minnesota lawmakers plugged a budget gap with short-term fixes. Rather than making structural changes in the way the state spends and collects money, more payments to schools will be deferred and future tobacco-settlement proceeds will now be tapped for cash.

As a likely consequence, the state's budget problems will return, and that fact hasn't been lost on voters who may remember the gridlock that dominated St. Paul on their next trip to the polls.

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Burnsville Patch's Clare Kennedy reports:

A group of Republican lawmakers today announced a plan that would effectively end state government shutdowns. Under the proposal, if a budget agreement isn’t reached by the end of the legislative session, funding for state services would continue at previous levels.

However, at least one of their colleagues believes a repeat of the 2011 shutdown is not in the cards. Burnsville Rep. Pam Myhra said all involved learned a lesson, albeit the hard way. "One thing I've heard is that the negotiation process (over the last few days) was a positive experience, with a good discussion and lots of give and take.

I think the shutdown was a shame -- unfortunate and unnecessary," Myhra said. "But hopefully this has been a good learning experience that will encourage us to work it out earlier, rather than to push it out and try to make a statement. I don't think it would happen again. It's been very painful for a lot of people."

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Richfield Patch's Caitlin Burgess reports:

"The bottom line is the governor agreed to accept a Republican budget plan by accepting this idea of borrowing money to balance the budget," Thissen said. "After Republican legislators were given seven options to do it in a permanent and more responsible way, he agreed. That’s why DFL legislators were told to leave the room. We didn’t have any part in the final negotiation of bills."

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The AP reports:

Minnesota's government is reopening for business after a nearly three-week shutdown closed state parks, laid off some 22,000 public workers and demonstrated the wide reach of state agencies.

Most state employees were told to start reporting to work at 7 a.m. Thursday, a day after Gov. Mark Dayton signed a budget deal that ended the nation's longest state government shutdown in a decade. It also cost Minnesota millions in lost revenue.

Not all services will resume quickly, and the work backload is expected to be large, but the recalled workers will restart a slew of services from the lottery to enabling licensing for drivers and anglers.

Even horseracing enthusiasts will have their fun back because the shutdown, in one of many examples of the government's reach, forced Canterbury Park horse track to close after state gambling regulators were laid off. It cost horse owners and jockeys more than million in purses and put about 1,000 people out of work.

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Burnsville Patch's Clare Kennedy reports:

Rep. Pam Myhra (R-Burnsville) was working on five hours of sleep when she spoke with Burnsville Patch. "I don't think any of us —the governor included— think we got everything we wanted," Myhra said. "I'm not worried about [backlash]. I'm not in it to be re-elected. I'm here to stand on principle. My goal to have sensible state spending and protect families from tax increases. I want to champion those principles. I will let the election take care of itself."

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Northfield Patch's Zac Farber reports:

Rep. Kelby Woodard who represents Northfield said "My constituents are ready for the government shutdown. I am as well."

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Eagan Patch's Zac Farber reports:

Sen. Ted Daley, who represents Eagan, said the state could avoid future faceoffs like this and plans to introduce legislation that would prevent a government shutdown again. A shutdown was "certainly not anything that anybody wanted," Daley said.

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Hopkins Patch's James Warden reports:

Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-District 44A) and Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-District 44) are glad the shutdown is in the past but unhappy with the way the final budget relies so heavily on cuts and borrowing.

“This is regrettable because there were better ways to do this fiscally,” Latz said. “The reduction is two-thirds cuts and one-third borrowing, and to me, this is like paying your bills with a very high interest credit card.”

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Minnetonka Patch's Katelynn Metz reports:

Although the ink is now dry on the state’s budget and the government shutdown has officially ended, implications of the shutdown may be far from over for the city of Minnetonka—and its budget.

The reason: the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) stopped work on the Highway 169/Bren Road interchange project during the shutdown. City officials said the decision was avoidable, and warned it could be expensive. And now, Minnetonka is considering taking legal action against MnDOT.

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Oakdale Patch reports:

Rep. Nora Slawik said many of the 12 bills that passed the Minnesota Legislature Tuesday were hastily written and Democrats were excluded from helping write them.

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Roseville Patch's Zac Farber reports that Reps. Bev Scalze and Mindy Greling both expressed disappointment in the final outcome of the government shutdown.

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Sen. Scott Dibble, who represents Southwest Minneapolis, said Tuesday the new budget deal that ends the state government shutdown was the product of extremist views held Republicans in the state legislature.

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MInnetonka Patch's Katelynn Metz reports:

Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) told Patch that the budget solution doesn’t solve the real problem: a swollen budget with few long-term fixes. “The gap that we have fixed has been fixed with one time money…with a Band-Aid and we’ll bleed more next year,” she said. “We still don’t have revenue that’s in line with our projected expenditures…This is a solution that is not fiscally responsible.”

Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) said he was "disappointed" with the final budget. "We’re now stealing .3 billion total from our school children -- with no way to pay it back. We’re borrowing 0 million from future revenue that isn’t guaranteed -- putting more debt on our children," he said. "We’re almost literally mortgaging the future of our state. This is the height of fiscal irresponsibility and our state will be paying for it for decades to come."

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Rosemount Patch's Jennifer Pfeffer reports:

Leprechaun Days is only a few short days away. This 10-day long celebration begins on Friday and runs through Sunday, July 31. However, that is a little too soon for vendors participating in the festival.

Due to the state government shutdown, vendors are unable to obtain the required electrical permits from the state and, instead, must purchase them through the city. On Tuesday, the City Council voted to decrease the permit fee for vendors from the usual to match the state fee of for this year only.

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Rep. Keith Downey of Edina said Tuesday that while he's not 100 percent happy with the outcome of the special session budget deals, he felt the legislature was finally coming together on an acceptable compromise.

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Maple Grove Patch reports that an upbeat Maple Grove Sen. Warren Limmer said Tuesday he's glad to get the budget bills passed to get Minnesota state workers back on the job.

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Rosemount Patch's Jeff Roberts reports:

Gov. Mark Dayton just signed into law all 12 budget bills passed in the middle of the night Wednesday by the Minnesota House and Senate. Dayton’s signatures ended the shutdown of Minnesota government—at 20 days, it was the longest continuous shutdown of any state government in United States history.

In the end, Dayton kept his promise that he wouldn’t sign any of the bills until all 12 had passed through both houses of the legislature

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The AP reports:

After signing the budget, Dayton said he was "not entirely happy" with it.

"It's not what I wanted, but it's the best option that was available and would be for any time," he said. Dayton said the budget "gets Minnesota back to work."

Details were still emerging Wednesday about how quickly state operations would restart.

A day earlier, Tina Smith, Dayton's chief of staff, told reporters that state employees would get 24-hour notice before reporting back to their jobs.

Jim Schowalter, the state's budget commissioner, added that it will take longer to restart some state agencies than others since some have continued partial operations during the shutdown. He predicted it would take weeks for agencies to work through paperwork backlogs, clean up parks and other sites and return to normal operations.

"There is a backload of work," Schowalter said. "There is a backload of issues that are going to have to be addressed."

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The AP reports:

In less than 12 hours, lawmakers passed nine budget bills that together fund all major state operations. Individually, many of the bills stretched to hundreds of pages, leaving legislative Democrats to complain they were voting based on little knowledge of what was contained within. ..

During floor debate, Republicans tweaked Democrats for voting against the only available option to end the shutdown. A vote against the budget bills "is a vote to continue the shutdown," said House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood.

In addition to the nine budget bills, lawmakers approved a pension bill and legislation allocating dedicated sales tax money to outdoors and cultural programs. They approved a 8 million construction bonding projects bill that includes million for a new physics building at the University of Minnesota, million for a new science and engineering laboratory at St. Cloud State University, million for flood control projects around the state, and million for transportation projects with more than half to local bridge replacement and repairs.

While Democrats bemoaned the spending bills as not generous enough, some conservative Republicans had resisted to committing their support after months in which they insisted no new revenue was needed in the next state budget. But in the end, House Republicans held together on all the budget bills while Senate Republicans suffered only a few defections on a handful of the bills.

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The Star Tribune reports:

The special session concluded just before 3:45 a.m. Wednesday after a marathon of votes on nine budget bills and a 0 million bonding bill. There was little fanfare when the deal was done and lawmakers had erased a projected billion deficit largely through one-time borrowing.

The dormant gears of Minnesota’s government will not start moving until Dayton signs the bills on Wednesday morning.

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Fridley Patch's Jeff Roberts reports:

11:15 p.m. [CST] Tuesday: It took less than an hour’s work for Minnesota lawmakers, who reconvened this afternoon, to pass five bills, the first of several that Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign.

The House and Senate took their seats in the Legislature at around 3 p.m., opened the special session, observed a moment of silence for the late Sen. Linda Scheid (R-Brooklyn Park) and then recessed for more than three hours.

When they reconvened at around 7 p.m., they got to work. Within an hour, the Senate had passed six bills; the House had passed five. The Legislature then went into recess again; lawmakers were back at their desks later in the evening.

Click here to read more on the bills and the votes that went down.

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Richfield Patch's Caitlin Burgess reports:

Now that legislators are working to end the state shutdown during a special session Tuesday, the Minnesota Historical Society announced it will reopen all 26 of its historical sites and museums throughout the state Saturday.

Including Fort Snelling, where Rachel Gonzales and Adam Hanneman were supposed to get married July 16. Unfortunately, this news comes a little too late for the newlyweds, who found an alternate location to continue with the Saturday wedding.

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Mendota Heights Patch's Danielle Cabot reports:

Mendota Heights-area legislators said during today's recess that they aren’t thrilled with the source of revenue being used to balance the budget and end the state shutdown, and they’re not too happy with how the process has worked to the exclusion of the public and most legislators.

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St. Michael Patch's Jeff Roberts reports:

Once Gov. Mark Dayton received the final seven bills, he will sign the package into law and the shutdown will come to an end. Money could start flowing to state agencies as soon as late Wednesday.

"We're confident [the shutdown will come to an end], yes," said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, who represents St. Michael. . "We've been busy caucusing and our membership is on the same page. There's mixed emotion. We were really excited about the bills we (had) passed in May. But there are still reforms in this package. We're excited to see the effect of those reforms."

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The AP reports:

An end to Minnesota's nearly three-week-long state government shutdown came into view on Tuesday, when Gov. Mark Dayton called the Legislature into a special session to vote on a budget deal.

The 19-day government stoppage has sullied Minnesota's good-government reputation, while disrupting lives and businesses around the state.

It will be over only after both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature approve nine budget bills and Dayton, a Democrat, signs them into law. Legislative leaders and Dayton agreed before the votes began to limit the scope of the special session and lawmakers' ability to tinker with the bills in an effort to keep the budget pact from unraveling once 200 legislators get involved.

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St. Michael Patch's Mike Schoemer reports:

Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Delano) of District 19B–which includes St. Michael-Albertville–said he has some "concerns with some of the provisions of the final budget agreement, but is glad to see "progress." He said he hasn't read enough of the framework to give his full opinion on the negotiated agreements.

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