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Dayton, GOP Lawmakers Meeting Amid Budget Deadlock

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — In an effort to break a budget impasse and avert a government shutdown July 1, Minnesota Republican leaders made a budget counteroffer to Gov. Mark Dayton Monday. Dayton characterized the meeting as constructive, but said the two sides remain far apart.

The Republican offer, which leaders characterized as more money for “kids, cops and courts,” would spend $110 million on programs in education, public safety and judiciary.

GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers called it “a significant, substantial compromise,” and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said Republicans are meeting Dayton “more than halfway.”

As the two sides met inside the Capitol, frustrated state employees like Michael Lindholt fretted outside.

“Why do we work so hard, and take pride in our jobs, if they don’t care?” asked Linholt, who is a MNDOT snowplow driver and road maintenance worker.

“Bridges won’t be inspected, roads won’t be maintained”, said Lindholt, who was laid off during the 2005 government shutdown.

With a government shutdown a real possibility, state officials set up a website helping workers prepare for the worst. It’s the same website that’s normally used for natural disasters like floods and tornadoes.

At the Capitol, the conservative tax watchdog group, The Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota, unveiled a television advertisement reiterating a central Republican talking point: Republicans passed a balanced budget with cuts that Dayton won’t sign.

“Governor Dayton doesn’t want to compromise,” said a character in the ad. “He wants higher taxes and billions more in state spending.”

The Republican budget offer to Dayton comes after two weeks of hot rhetoric and cool relations between the two sides.

However, for state employees like Lindholdt, the bosses aren’t working hard enough.

“We love our jobs,” said Lindholdt. “We’re here to work, and we come to work every day. Now they tell us that we’re gonna shut you down because we’re gonna play this political game and point fingers? You feel unappreciated.”

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