On the anniversary of the start of last year's state government shutdown, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen Monday said, essentially, to avoid another shutdown Minnesotans should elect Democrats.
In a starkly political plea, promoted by Thissen's official office, the Minneapolis DFLer said: "All Minnesotans deserve and expect better than the gridlock they saw last year from the Legislature."
Thissen said that if Minnesotans elect a Democratic Legislature next year, when the state will have to pass a new budget, lawmakers would consider tax increases and spending cuts to close the budget gap. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said clearly that he will try to raise taxes again next year.
The minority leader's Capitol press conference Monday was part of a renewed Democratic campaign to get Minnesotans to pin the shutdown on Republicans. Last week, the well-heeled Alliance for a Better Minnesota began running online and newspaper ads with the theme, using some of the same GOP quotes Thissen focused upon Monday.
Last year, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton tried to get the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a tax increase. Republicans refused to do so, instead passing a budget that included no increase in state-wide taxes.
Their failure to agree on a budget by July 1, 2011 gridlock brought on a historic nearly three-week government shutdown, in which workers went without paychecks, state parks were closed and lack of licensing meant no new drivers and nearly meant beer being pulled from shelves.
Republicans say Thissen blaming the shutdown on them is unfair.
"We passed a balanced budget," said Jodi Boyne, spokeswoman for the Republican House. "Republicans were not responsible for the government shutdown."
Republican Senate spokesman Steve Sviggum said if Democrats win the Legislature in the fall election, "all you will have is liberal government and tax increases.