June 27, 2005
Camp Ripley calls

Another unproductive weekend of budget negotiations led Gov. Pawlenty on Sunday night to call for moving the negotiations north. North to Camp Ripley, that is. Why that would be any more effective now than it would have been at the end of the regular session is an open question, but the announcement did allow the governor to grab the upper hand on the most watched TV newscast night of the week and to get in the papers Monday morning. Here's how the Pioneer Press wrote it:

With fewer than 100 hours until Minnesota's first state government shutdown, Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed Sunday night moving budget negotiations from the Capitol to the Camp Ripley military base north of Little Falls and staying until a deal is reached.

"The situation here at the state Capitol is ridiculous,'' the Republican governor said. "I'm as frustrated as I'm sure most Minnesotans are.''

But Senate Democratic-Farmer-Labor leaders immediately criticized the idea as unpractical. "It could create as many problems as it solves,'' said Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul. "To have this college-of-cardinals approach will not go well with the public.''

Of course the stalled negotiations aren't playing too well with the public least with those members of the public who are paying attention. Minnesotans may have been sweating out the shutdown yesterday, but mostly they were just sweating and boating and swimming and doing what they usually do on a hot summer weekend.

Despite a newspaper story over the weekend that questioned whether many people will even notice the partial shutdown, clearly some will notice it more than others. The 16,000 state workers who face a layoff will certainly notice. MPR's Tom Scheck reports that many doctors and hospitals will also feel the impact:

{State human services commissioner Kevin]Goodno says his department is asking doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to continue treating patients on state health programs. He says the state will pay some critical care providers but others will be forced to wait until a budget deal is reached.

"We're asking them to continue to provide services on the hope that at some point that we will get a resolution to the budget process and they will eventually get paid."

The request puts some doctors in a precarious position since their bottom line may bottom out if a shutdown lasts several weeks. Don Jacobs is a trustee of the Minnesota Medical Association and CEO of Hennepin Faculty Associates at Hennepin County Medical Center. He says doctors and clinics who focus on treating the low income and the working poor will be faced with a cash flow crunch if a shutdown occurs.

"We have an ethical responsibility for the care of our patients and we will meet that obligation but there becomes a limit to the financial viability of practices, particularly when a very large portion of their practice revenues may come from those patients and the type of programs that are supported by the public money."

And here's the scoop of the week. The Republican leader sof the U.S. Senate is supporting the only Minnesota Republican candidate running for Senate. Yes, it's hard to believe but Sen. Bill Frist, R- Tenn., is supporting Mark Kennedy for Senate. Here's an item from MPR's Mark Zdechlik:

Frist spoke briefly with reporters prior to a private fundraiser appearance.

The Senate majority leader called Rep. Kennedy a "steadfast leader" and said Kennedy would make a good addition to the Senate.

"When we come in, it's not in any way to tell Minnesotans how to vote or really to get involved specifically in the race. It is more to reflect the importance from the national standpoint in having somebody like Mark on the floor of the U.S. Senate."

But that's not telling anyone how to vote. Got it?

Posted by Mike Mulcahy at 6:36 AM