A Democratic executive believes that the only way to close the budget gap and preserve funding for vitally needed programs is to increase taxation on the wealthy.
The Republican-controlled legislative branch responds that there will be no further taxation and it is better to pare existing programs than to live beyond one's means.
As both sides dig in and are encouraged to hold their ground by voters from their parties the deadlock deepens, leading to a government shutdown.
The previous paragraph has been worded to lure the reader into thinking that we are talking about the debt ceiling conflict between President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. This could trigger a federal government shutdown in another month and a half, but in the meantime we're talking about the North Star state of Minnesota that shut down last Friday after the Democratic governor Mark Dayton could not reach an agreement with the Republican-controlled legislature.
There is little doubt that the parallels between Minnesota and the national arena have created interest beyond Minnesota.
The results of the shutdown were immediately felt. More than 20,000 state employees were advised to seek unemployment benefits; the state-run racetrack closed as did the entire network of state parks. Only emergency services such as state prisons, courts, Highway Patrol etc. escaped the shut down and continue to function. The state zoo was able to limp along thanks to proceeds from parking and admissions.
The Republicans are for the moment standing firm on a $34 billion budget --the amount that the state could raise without increased taxation. Given inflation, that amount cannot sustain programs at their current level, so they would have to be either cut or eliminated.
What is making the deadlock worse is that each party believes that public opinion is on its side and is therefore certain that the other side will buckle.
One prognosis is that the Republicans will acquiesce to something higher than $34 billion provided that the shortfall is made up by revenue producers that cannot be labeled an income tax raise.
The shutdown in Minnesota has given a lot of free publicity to former Minnesota Governor, a longtime rival of Dayton, Tim Pawlenty who is attempting to secure the Republican Party nomination for president.
Although he is no longer governor, Pawlenty is backing the Republican legislators in the fight.
As the cases of neighboring Wisconsin and Ohio have already demonstrated, taking a conservative stand on the budget and linking it to the past budgetary struggles is a good way to improve one's popularity with the Republican base that will decide the party's primary elections.