The afternoon before a massive state government shutdown, legislative leaders made a budget deal seem doable.

By evening's fall, it didn't as partisan rancor ramped up.

Republican House members staged asymbolic "sit in" in the chambers they haven't used since the end of the session, signaling their desire for a special session. DFL leaders hit back, saying the GOP-led a "do nothing" Legislature that concentrated on social issues and produced little.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, calmly led the theatrics.

"Our guys, obviously, are very comfortable with where we are," said Zellers, standing in the Minnesota House chamber at 8:30 p.m. Thursday evening, as most of his House Republican colleagues sat in their seats, waiting for DFL Gov. Mark Dayton to agree to a budget deal.

The move made agreement less likely.

"The deal was in reach as early as early afternoon," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk. "Time is slipping...It seem like it is getting much more difficult."

"It is much more difficult than it was four hours ago," Bakk said. 

Mike Kaszuba contributed to this report.

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