ABC News' Chris Bury (@ChrisBuryABC) reports:
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton today moved to end the state’s two week-old government shutdown by accepting a proposal Republicans first offered last month. Under the plan, Minnesota would delay school funding and borrow against future revenues to close its $1.4 billion dollar budget shortfall. In a letter to Republican leaders, the Democratic governor said he would accept the deal only if they dropped demands for a 15 percent cut in the state work force and other policy changes, including restrictions on abortion and stem cell research: “This proposal bridges the remaining … gap between us without any more drastic cuts in essential services to the people of Minnesota,” he said.
Republican leaders have agreed to meet with Governor Dayton in his office this afternoon.
The possible break in the impasse comes as the shutdown threatened to hit Minnesotans where it hurts: by taking away their beer. This week, state officials told MillerCoors to prepare for removing its products from store shelves and taverns because state employees responsible for licensing were laid off. The giant brewer supplies nearly 40percent of Minnesota’s beer.
Since the shutdown, more than 20,000 state employees have been off the job, resulting in significant cuts in services. A nursing home in the small town of Belview is unable to reopen after a storm damaged its roof because state inspectors are not working. Twenty-five patients were transferred to other nursing homes.
Prospective new drivers have been unable to get licenses. Anglers, too, have been unable to renew their fishing permits.
Food banks worry about re-stocking shelves, because state employees who help administer federal food programs have also been laid off.
But a special magistrate, appointed to sift through emergency requests, has ruled in favor of keeping other state services open, including an office that conducts background checks for programs that serve the children and elderly.
The shutdown is also costing Minnesota plenty: State officials estimate they are losing $1.25 million a day in lottery sales, $1 million a week in state park fees, and $50 million a month that state tax auditors collect.