Minn. shutdown a battle over big-spending legacy

July 7, 2011 - 3:44 PM
Minnesota Government Shutdown

Protestors hold signs during a rally at the Minnesota State Capitol, Wednesday, July 6, 2011, in St. Paul, Minn. Minnesota stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in the nation's only state government shutdown, as lottery tickets go unpurchased, tax cheats go unpursued and 22,000 laid-off state workers collect unemployment and health benefits. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Carlos Gonzalez) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES TV OUT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The weeklong shutdown of Minnesota's government stems from a deep conflict about the state's tradition of generous public assistance programs.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton says the state's long practice of caring for the vulnerable is at risk in the budget dispute that led to the shutdown. Republicans who control the Legislature say that safety net has been fueled by high taxes that stifle job growth.

The two sides had no overall budget talks scheduled Thursday.

Even Dayton's allies agree the state spends generously. But they say that's led to decades of high test scores, strong incomes and a desirable quality of life. Republicans say the state can no longer afford to be known as a place where newcomers have fast, long-term access to a long menu of benefits.