Minnesota Prepares For Possible Government Shutdown

Things are heating up in Minnesota this summer where the state government is facing a $5 billion deficit. If a budget deal isn’t reached by the end of the month, it’s lights out.

Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is looking to increase taxes on the top 2 percent of wealthy Minnesotans and cut spending, while Republicans propose balancing the budget entirely with spending cuts.“We have to use a balanced approach to closing this deficit,” Dayton press secretary Katharine Tinucci told TPM. “People in Minnesota expect a balanced approach.”

Tinucci said the Republican spending-cuts plan is too “drastic.” “It’s not good for Minnesota,” she said. “It would be too painful.”

In the event of a possible shutdown, the state is making emergency preparations. On Friday, about 40,000 state employees received layoff notices. Dayton in a statement called it a “grim reminder” of the looming deadline. Employees who are deemed “critical” would be kept on the job for the duration of the shutdown, Minnesota Management & Budget spokesman John Pollard told TPM.

“Other employees would be recalled once a budget is passed into law,” he said.

Ultimately it will be up to the courts to decide which services are considered essential for the state. State Attorney General Lori Swanson offered a grave warning on Monday in a petition to the Ramsey County District Court. Dayton is expected to file a supplemental petition Wednesday, as well.

From the Star Tribune:

In a petition to Ramsey County District Court, Lori Swanson said that unless a court keeps core services running, sexual predators could be out on the streets, veterans turned out of nursing homes, unemployment checks left languishing, and there would be a “catch-and-release” criminal justice system if no judges were able to preside over hearings.

“The operations of state government cannot completely shut down,” Swanson told the court.

Speaking more generally about the budget battle, Dayton said in a statement he is “standing up” for Minnesotans.

“I am standing up for a budget that protects students, protects seniors, and prevents more than a billion dollars in property tax increases,” he said. “Those choices are too important not to take a stand, and I know I stand on the side of Minnesotans.”

If the state government does shutdown, the state’s parks and highway rest stops would close, as well as other state agencies. But, as the Star Tribune reports, Minnesotans will continue to pay taxes. Former Gov. Arne Carlson says “the citizens will lose immeasurably.”

“It raises serious questions about where America is going and where Minnesota is going,” he said.

Read more here.

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