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Minn. Gov. Mansion Closing Moves On

April 30, 2002

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) _ Barring a surprise reprieve, Gov. Jesse Ventura said he will close the governor’s mansion indefinitely at the end of the day Tuesday because of budget cuts.

Lawmakers left him no choice but to close the official residence because they cut his budget more than their own, closing his Washington office and slashing his security funds, the governor said Tuesday on ABC’s ``Good Morning America.″

``This is a personal attack on an independent governor that you have happening here,″ said Ventura, of the Independence Party. ``The Legislature’s doing it, not me.″

In March, Ventura decided to close the residence to deal with budget cuts made as part of lawmakers’ solution to a projected $1.95 billion budget deficit. Since then, the deficit projection grew by another $440 million and lawmakers can’t agree what to do about it.

Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum said he hoped Ventura would have put off the closing until the end of the legislative session. The Legislature may come up with money to run the mansion as part of a budget package leaders are working on, he said.

``This is a decision of the governor,″ Sviggum said. ``This is his decision. It’s a consequence he is forcing.″

The 20-room mansion was built in 1910 by Horace Hills Irvine. He and his wife lived in the home until his death in 1947. Their two daughters gave the house to the state in 1965.

``This gift that we thought would be of great benefit to the state is being tossed back and forth between the Legislature and the governor like a football,″ said one of the daughters, Olivia Irvine Dodge, 83, who called for a compromise that would keep the mansion open.

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