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Minnesota Opinion

A sampling of editorials from Minnesota newspapers:

On no bridge-builders in sight as ideological divide grows:

We're not sure what's more disheartening: The failure of the GOP and Gov. Dayton to reach a budget deal, or the fact that the entire state could see this impasse coming for the past four months. ...

To make matters worse, this may have been just the first of several rounds in a high-stakes game of chicken. In round one, no one blinked. No one swerved to avoid the collision -- but no smash-up happened. There were no real winners or losers, other than the taxpayers who funded this do-nothing legislative session. The clock has simply been reset to June 30, when the current two-year budget expires.

That means we can expect little to no action during the next four weeks. ...

If the two sides do reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown, it almost certainly will arrive in the waning hours of June -- but such a deal seems highly unlikely. Minnesota is on the brink of all-out ideological warfare between those who prefer self-reliance and smaller government and those who want to maintain the important-yet-expensive safety nets that protect children, vulnerable adults and the elderly.

When the law-making roles were reversed -- when the GOP held the governor's office and the DFL controlled the Legislature -- Gov. Pawlenty could essentially veto and cut his way to a "balanced" budget. He could remove the things he didn't like from the DFL proposals, then send everyone home.

But Dayton's position is far different. He can't add new spending or programs to GOP budget proposals. He can't raise taxes on his own. So, barring an unforeseen collapse of resolve on one side, we're five weeks away from a government shutdown that might last much longer than the eight-day closure in 2005.

We'd like to believe that ultimately, the two sides will reach an agreement based on a mutual understanding of what's best for Minnesota. The sad reality, however, is that the eventual budget deal will come about when one side or the other decides that they're taking the bulk of the blame from voters.

That's right: Fear, not ideas, is likely to determine who will win this battle of wills

-- Post-Bulletin, Rochester

On a good court ruling:

A court has rightly upheld a Minnesota law that requires corporations to disclose when they spend money to support or defeat a political candidate.

The law requires reports on corporate spending for or against candidates. The law requires two reports to be filed before the primary and two more before the general election. The law also applies to groups supported by unions. Requiring those disclosures is allowed by federal law, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday.

In addition, a Minnesota corporation may donate its own money to an existing independent expenditure committee or fund without providing any information beyond its name and address. If the business solicits and receives contributions beyond its general treasury revenue, it must disclose the source of the contributions.

The appeals court got involved because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that bans on "independent" expenditures were an infringement on free speech. But the court also said states could require disclosure of such spending. As a result, the Minnesota Legislature amended the law to require disclosure.

The Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and Coastal Travel Enterprises argue that Minnesota's law hampers their right to free speech by improperly limiting corporate support for candidates and causes.

But what harm can come from knowing where the money comes from that supports or helps defeat a candidate? ...

The court's action reiterates that Minnesota's law is appropriate to help inform the public about which special interests are attempting to influence voters as they elect candidates for public office.

-- The Journal, International Falls