MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s Republican Senate leader says he is preparing to lay off staffers and close down the Senate if a budget impasse with the Democratic governor goes much longer.
It is part of the ongoing budget standoff between the legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton that can be described as a high-stakes game of political tit-for-tat.
Dayton vetoed the legislature’s operating funds, trying to force lawmakers back to the bargaining table to re-negotiate bills he signed but does not like.
It is still tied up in the Minnesota Supreme Court to decide, and the House and Senate are operating on reserve funds — and that money is running out fast.
There is no per diem or out-of-state travel starting Wednesday, and there will soon be an end to paychecks.
Even in the best-case scenario, 205 staffers will be furloughed on Jan. 12.
“Furlough notices would go out, it would be Jan. 12, that’s when everything ceases,” said Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Majority Leader. “Our phones would get forwarded, we lock the Senate doors, things close down.”
Gov. Dayton says the legislature can take money from a number of other state funds it controls so it can continue operating until the legislature meets again Feb. 20.