The legislative session is less than two weeks old, but some state lawmakers were already talking about a potential budget impasse and government shutdown.
Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, raised eyebrows when he included a "government shutdown overview" on his agenda for the Health and Human Services Finance committee meeting Thursday. He invited state budget officials to recap the steps taken during 2005's partial shutdown to keep essential services running.
Abeler said he simply wanted members to know what could happen if the looming $6.2 billion budget deficit isn't resolved.
"I want people to know what the stakes are, so that we maybe don't want to go there," said Abeler. "Far from being a surrender to the indivertible, if you know how bad the outcome might be, you might not want to get it."
Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said Republicans were sending a confusing message about their willingness to find a budget solution.
"I understand wanting to understand the mechanics of a shutdown. But I think doing it in a public hearing is sending a message to Minnesotans that at least is confusing from my perspective. And it's confusing to me about the new majority's intentions," said Murphy.
In July 2005, Minnesota's state government ground to a halt for 10 days because of a budget impasse between Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature. Non-essential services were shut down, and most state employees were laid off.