Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said Wednesday that his department has taken a new look at the department's 2005 government shutdown plan.
"We've pulled that plan out and we're dusting it off. Obviously, July first is two months away. We're starting to think about what we might have to do in that case" Landwehr said. But he said he's not making any serious plans for shutdown, noting that the regular legislative session still has time to suceed.
In 2005, after budget impasse, the state was left without a full budget in place, causing a short partial government shutdown. This year, if the state budget wrangling lasts past the end of June, it could end up in the same situation.
Six years ago, the Department of Natural Resources was actually spared from shutdown, after a last minute agreement on that part of the budget was signed into law.
But DNR officials had prepared a 2005 shutdown plan. It included the closure of state parks, Landwehr said.
The commissioner said he re-examined the plan on his own, not at the request of Gov. Mark Dayton. Dayton said last week that he had not planned for a government shutdown or asked his commissioners to plan for a government shutdown.
Lawmakers and the governor have until May 23 to settle the budget during the regular session. Failing that, Dayton would need to call a special session of lawmakers to work on the budget. If that session doesn't finish by the end of next month state government shutdown will loom.
So far, only the agriculture budget bill has been signed into law. Lawmakers have made some progress this week on some other issues.
Late Tuesday, a joint House and Senate committee agreed on how to resolve their differences on the education budget bill.
Dayton said Wednesday he appreciated that the House-Senate compromise took out some of the features to which his administration objected. But, he said, he was still not ready to sign on to the measure.
"There is still a lot more work to be done," Dayton said. "But progress is progress."
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said that the education committee had a working budget target to hit and other committees will soon have similar guidance. She said she's hoping for agreement with the governor as they move along.
"The whole process is a little bit delicate right now," Koch said. But, she said, they are making process.