Mark Dayton's former home set on fire

Instead of coming back from the long Fourth of July holiday weekend to find a renewed sense of respect among Minnesota's lawmakers seeking an end to the shutdown, we instead heard that someone tried to burn down Gov. Mark Dayton's former home near Lake Harriet.

"To say that it's politically motivated at this time would be premature," Minneapolis police spokesman Stephen McCarty said in a statement. "But you certainly can't ignore that."

Maybe it was a coincidence, but the suspected arson sounds emblematic of the super-heated debate at the Capitol. And maybe it'll serve as a caution flag when negotiations begin again today, after Minnesotans spent the weekend shut out of campgrounds and state workers started planning for layoffs. State agencies start furloughing workers today as agencies turn out the lights and go home.

It's doubtful, though. Republicans still won't compromise with Dayton over a tax increase to balance the budget and help cover the $5 billion state budget shortfall, even though he whittled it back at the end of last week so that it affected just 7,000 or so Minnesota millionaires. And he won't compromise with them over massive spending cuts, and their insistence on including hot button social issues in the deal.

The two sides are $1.7 billion apart. Republicans refuse to budge off a $34 billion outlay, $1.4 billion less than Dayton wants to spend.

Also today we have a so-called gathering of "wise men," led by former Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale and former GOP Gov. Arne Carlson, who hope to act as some sort of peace brokers between the two sides.

They may just be tilting at windmills.


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