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Union girding for shutdown

The state's largest public employees union is starting to prepare its nearly 20,000 employees for a government shutdown.

"We are telling them they need to prepare for the possibility that they may go for some period of time without a paycheck," said Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5. The union gave Gov. Mark Dayton his first campaign endorsement.

Seide said members are fully behind Dayton's tax increase proposal. He said he hopes the meltdown at the Capitol doesn't lead to a shutdown in July.

Seide said union workers will not be "pawns in a game to try to defeat the governor's proposals. Our people are too smart for that."

For public workers, the possibility of shutdown will become very real if there is no budget deal by June 8, when layoff notices would go out to employees.

The public employees union is also planning to rally at the Capitol on Monday night -- the last night of the regular legislative session -- to try to convince Republican lawmakers to get their job done.

"We do our jobs. ... Now we are going to see if the legislators are going to get their jobs done," he said.


Next, a Bachmann book?

If this presidential thing doesn't work out, maybe U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann can eke out a living as an author.

Or it could just be a sign that the Minnesota Republican really is running for president.

Either way, her camp will neither confirm nor deny reports in the Huffington Post and Politico that she spent last week in New York meeting with major book publishers.

That usually means the reports are true.

Pundits are already eager to see how a Bachmann bio might match up with one by Sarah Palin, another Tea Party doyenne who's been toying with the idea of running for president. Palin's "Going Rogue" reportedly sold more than 2 million copies in hardcover.


Tut-tutting to stymie cutting

Legislative watchers might have tuned in to the Senate floor debate Wednesday expecting to see heated debate about the state government finance budget bill.

Instead they saw Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, give a lengthy discussion about exhibits at the Science Museum of Minnesota, including a detailed history of King Tut and a discussion of dinosaur exhibits, complete with butchered names of the terrestrial vertebrates.

Republicans made repeated attempts to block Pappas in what appeared an effort to delay the debate and postpone the vote. The Science Museum is among numerous targets for budget cuts as legislators try to beat down the state's $5 billion projected deficit.

"It's really a fascinating story about Tut," said Pappas, causing smirks and eye-rolling among GOP colleagues.

State Sen. Julianne Ortman, who was guiding Senate deliberations, urged Pappas to "please keep your comments to the budget, not your visit to the Science Museum."

Pappas said, "I am worried about the Science Museum's ability to fulfill its mission."

In the end, Republicans passed their budget cuts.