Minnesota Shutdown Drags On, With No Hope In Sight


Photo: AP

For the 11th straight day, Minnesota residents awoke to a state shutdown. Vital institutions are operating only on a series of court orders keeping the police force and schools open. There are few signs negotiations to reopen the state will lead anywhere.”I don’t see a quick conclusion,” Republican Rep. Larry Howes told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “If this thing goes to the State Fair, it will probably go to January. That’s my gut.”

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislators split on whether tax increases should offset deep spending cuts this year. The state must close a $5 billion budget gap.

The temporary funding orders issued by the court-appointed Special Master Kathleen Blatz are based on last fiscal year’s funding levels, meaning the state is paying out far more than it is taking in.

“If we keep spending more than we are bringing in, we will run out of money,” Jim Schowalter, the commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget told the paper. “We don’t have a huge cushion.”

State Businesses are feeling the pressure of shutdown on their bottom lines, and 22,000 state employees are furloughed. Local bars and restaurants are threatening to shut down as their liquor licenses expire.

Already the state’s credit rating has been downgraded, meaning that the state’s borrowing costs will rise when the government restarts.

“They’ve put us on notice that we aren’t addressing the crisis,” Schowalter said.

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