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Talking Points: Shutdown Specter Looms Over Budget Battle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It's crunch time at the state Capitol.

By law, legislators need to have the budget balanced and their business done by May 18, which is just two weeks from Monday.

That's a tight deadline.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, disagree on almost every major issue.

If the Legislature and the governor can't reach a budget deal in the next two weeks, Dayton would have to call a special session and a countdown would begin to a state government shutdown in July.

The last government shutdown was in 2011, and it was sparked by a dispute between Dayton and Republicans on how to handle a budget deficit.

This time, whoever, the state has a $1.8 billion surplus.

The governor wants a gas tax for highway improvements and an education bill with universal pre-K.

Republicans say they want $2 billion in tax cuts and to eliminate MNsure, the state's health care exchange.

Both sides say they want to work out a deal, but neither side seems ready to compromise.

Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning. Asked if a government shutdown could happen this summer, Thompson said it's not likely.

"Generally, when that happens, isn't when the dollars are very far apart, but when one side or another is so entrenched in a particular program or idea that they are not willing to move," he said. "I am not seeing that yet, but I could be wrong."

There is enormous pressure on both sides to reach a deal. The 2011 shutdown cost the state an estimated $5 million and voters pinned most of the blame on Republicans, who ended up losing seats in the 2012 election.

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