There will be no shortage of protests at the state Capitol in the coming days, as GOP legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton remain at an impasse on the $5 billion budget deficit and face an end-of-the week government shutdown deadline.
Mostly union and left-leaning groups are lining up rally and parade permits that will likely span late into the evening on Thursday, as they try to put pressure on both sides to make a deal. Mental health advocates will kick off activities Tuesday evening on the Capitol steps, where they will sport glow sticks and signs to urge the governor and legislators to support mental health funding. Progressive group Take Action Minnesota will be collecting petitions calling for more revenue, and plan to deliver them to legislators on Wednesday.
Most of the action will happen on Thursday in St. Paul, a day before state government could shut down absent a budget deal. More than a half dozen groups have planned rallies on the Capitol lawn starting at 10 a.m., including the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, MAPE, the Welfare Rights Committee, Council on Asian Pacific MN and Invest in Minnesota.
A new group, US Uncut Minnesota, is also planning an afternoon parade starting on Kellogg Boulevard and Wabasha Street that will eventually lead to the Capitol lawn and join other shutdown rallies. The group also plans to “deliver hundreds of pink slips to GOP legislators who are still collecting pay for not doing their jobs, which is to provide health and safety for all Minnesotans,” the group’s website reads. Permits allowing, some rally goers may camp out on the Capitol lawn to protest the closing of state parks.
AFSCME will also be on the Capitol lawn Thursday evening to hold a ceremony asking leaders to keep the “lights on” and continue working. The union is encouraging protesters to bring flashlights.
There have been few GOP-led events scheduled for the coming days. GOP Gretchen Hoffman, Rep. Mary Franson will hold a rally in support of the Republican budget bills Tuesday evening at a park in Fergus Falls. Republican Reps. Bud Nornes, Mark Murdock, Torrey Westrom and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen have also been invited to speak at the rally.