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Not much optimism regarding shutdown

Opinions ranged from pessimistic to uncertain when area legislators were asked if they saw an end to the state shutdown which is beginning its second week.

Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, is certain there’s a way out of the impasse but it hasn’t been found yet.

“If it (the shutdown) goes another two weeks it will be tough,” he said. “If it goes to State Fair time, I see it going to January.”

Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls, said he hasn’t heard much of any impending breakthrough, although the governor and Republican lawmakers are trying to get together. He said Republicans would like to get a lights-on bill to get some of the state employees back to work but Gov. Mark Dayton has refused to go along with that idea.

“I thought this was the week that we’d be called back in,” LeMieur said. “It’s hard to determine when that will be.”

Sen. John Carlson, R-Bemidji, whose district includes northern Crow Wing County, was en route to St. Paul Thursday for a caucus meeting. 

“I heard the governor made a couple of offers,” he said. “One thing Minnesotans do not want us to do is to continue to kick the can down the road. I don’t think they want more school shifts.”

Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, said there had been serious negotiations in the past few days. He was glad to see there were proposals on both sides and both sides were continuing to make offers.

Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, said he gave Dayton feedback on Wednesday at a caucus meeting where the governor was updating House DFLers on the negotiations. He said he thanked the governor for continuing to meet with the majority and minority members and outside groups and for continuing to compromise and offer solutions. Ward said he thought the two sides were pretty close last week until policy issues were brought into the process.

“All of sudden, in comes a whole new agenda,” Ward said.

He said Dayton scaled back his proposal so that an income tax hike would only be aimed at the state’s millionaires rather than the top 2 percent of wage earners. Many of those millionaires, Ward said, don’t even live in the state.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at or 855-5860.