A possible state shutdown July 1 couldn't come at a worse time for people with reservations to camp at a Minnesota state park for July 4. But don't cancel the reservations yet.
That's the guidance from the state DNR. The agency's posted answers to a bunch of frequently asked questions. Here are the biggies:
1.) DNR is telling people to keep their camp site reservation since there's still time for a compromise to be reached, and they're still accepting reservations beyond July.
2.) If you cancel a reservation between June 27 (Monday) and June 30 (Wednesday), the state will waive cancellation penalties for reservations that include a night between June 30 and July 14. If you cancel before June 27, you'll pay the standard cancellation penalty.
3.) If a shutdown occurs, expect state parks to close at 4 p.m. on June 30, unless the courts say otherwise. Park ground will be posted closed and buildings, restrooms and other facilities will be locked.
MPR News reporter Stephanie Hemphill says more than 3,000 campsites are reserved at state parks and some families are making other arrangements; others are just frustrated.
Private campgrounds could see a rush of campers with no place to pitch a tent on one of the busiest weekends of the summer.
If you do cancel a reservation and you're eligible for a refund, be patient. The shutdown will stop a lot of stuff, including the processing and mailing of refunds.
6/24 UPDATE: Listen to Hemphill's story
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Posted at 11:11 AM on June 23, 2011
by Paul Tosto
What stays open and what closes in a state government shutdown is up for discussion this morning in a Ramsey County courtroom.
Attorney General Lori Swanson is weighing in.
Also now, DFL leaders are on MPR's Midday show talking shutdown. Listen in.
Summer classes, student orientation and other activities at the University of Minnesota will keep rolling during the summer no matter what happens with a state government shutdown.
The university says medical and dental clinics will remain open to treat patients and buildings and offices will stay open during regular hours.
While it will be a challenge, the university it "can weather a short-term disruption in the flow of next year's state appropriation to the university."
Saying the governor and legislative leaders already have the "institutional competency" to resolve the budget impasse, Ramsey County judge Kathleen Gearin today rejected Gov. Dayton's idea for a budget mediator.
You can't work as a doctor in Minnesota without a license and there's been worry that a state government shutdown would stop annual license renewals and force many doctors to stop practicing.
The deal is being offered to doctors whose licenses expire during July, August or September.
Robert Leach, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, says the board will only be able to process online renewals for those months.
"What we will not be able to accomplish are those individuals who submit paper renewals because the office will be closed. And we will also not be able to process new applications."
Doctors must submit an online application by no later than noon on June 30 in order to complete the renewal process before a possible shutdown. There are more than 3,800 Minnesota physician licenses set to expire in July, August and September.
The Minnesota Medical Association still worries about a shutdown's potential effects on payments to doctors.
While state subsidized health care programs would continue, "payments to providers and vendors for services would be suspended," Dave Renner, director of state and federal legislation for the MMA, wrote last week.
"Current Medicaid managed care contracts between the state and health plans will terminate July 1 if there is no legislative appropriation; the health plans are awaiting guidance from the state."
Clinics that serve state funded health care for low income Minnesotans could end up "closing their doors or turning away patients," he added.
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The Uptake is streaming coverage of the court hearing this afternoon over what stays open and what closes during a shutdown.
Posted at 2:44 PM on June 23, 2011
by Paul Tosto
State leaders are working through a shutdown plan in the courts. We don't know how that will end. But we do know which groups will take the first early hits if a shutdown happens.
MPR News reporter Tom Weber checked in with John Pollard at Minnesota Management and Budget and got a breakdown of the largest state payments scheduled to be sent from the state's general fund in July:
Payments to School districts: July 15 - $369 Million, July 29 - $201 Million
Aid to cities: July 20 - $265 million
Payments to counties: July 15 - $37 million
Higher education (U of MN, MNSCU): July 26 - $74 million
Dep't of Human Services payments: July 6 - $439 million, July 19 - $212 million
State payroll: July 1 - $51 million, July 15 - $51 million, July 29 - $40 million
State officials would normally be sending out nearly $2.1 billion in July through the general fund.
Breaking down the budget, it's no shock that school and health payments face the biggest initial hit.
Education and human services dominate general fund spending. Nearly half the money goes to K-12 and higher education and more than 30 percent to health and human services. (Click on the pie chart for a larger view).
We noted earlier that spending on health and human services will take one of the first big hits if state government shuts down in July.
Hennepin County officials today doubled down on that worry as officials laid out a grim scenario for many of the county's most vulnerable citizens.
MPR's Laura Yuen reports:
Board Chair Mike Opat says he's worried that the shutdown would shred the safety net for the most vulnerable families. He says nonprofits that administer government programs, such as group homes and work programs for the disabled, will hang in the balance if checks from the state stop coming.
"Instead of the developmentally disabled person going to their work site, they're going to sit home all day because the state program that pays for the van to get them to the shelter workshop isn't funded anymore. So that's going to be kind of a quiet tragedy that happens."
Other programs at risk include child-care assistance, treatment for chemical dependency, and housing for people with serious mental illness.
County officials have identified four services -- homeless shelters, mental health crisis operations, emergency case management and the county's call center -- as crucial to the health and safety of citizens that could be excluded from "core services" state funding.
The board meets again Monday to discuss next possible steps. Yuen says commissioners could take a vote Tuesday. Commissioners are also weighing a layoff of about 80 employees and shutting down licensing centers.
As many as 200 Minnesota road projects could be mothballed in a state government shutdown, Republican lawmakers said today.
MPR News reporter Tim Nelson writes:
Republican Sen. Joe Gimse of Willmar says the budget impasse at the Capitol has contractors getting ready to leave the work they're already doing on Minnesota roads. He says the Department of Transportation is saying they can't use state right of way during the shutdown.
"I know what they're telling the contractors, and they're shutting them off of all of the projects. Take, for example, the Highway 14 project by Owatonna. They're telling them that by Monday morning, there can't be anybody on that project, either on the road right of way or anywhere else. They have to button that up."
Gimse said he feels that Gov. Mark Dayton's administration is forcing work to stop in an effort to strengthen his hand in budget negotiations. Democrats say passing a Republican budget plan could imperil funding for transit and other transportation priorities
Read all of Nelson's report with documents at MPR's Capitol View blog.
A state shutdown that would bring spending to a halt is a frightening proposition to the people who need government subsidized health care. But it also has the potential to damage health care providers who meet the needs of low income people.
The Minnesota Medical Association raised that worry last week, warning, "clinics that serve state funded health care for low income Minnesotans could end up "closing their doors or turning away patients."
Following up on a tip from MPR's Public Insight Network, my colleague Molly Bloom discovered hospitals and health care providers are not only bracing for the financial hit from a shutdown but are also dealing with the ripple effects from last year's budget-balancing agreement.
Here's her report (We've also posted it on MinnEcon, MPR's economy blog).
One of the ways legislators balanced last year's budget was to delay some Medical Assistance payments during the last month of the fiscal year and then pay providers what they're owed at the beginning of the next fiscal year.
Normally this delay wouldn't cause a big headache for providers. But if the state shuts down, they will not get their delayed payments or payments for the new fiscal year until the shutdown ends.
Karen Smigielski, communications officer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, says 9,158 health care providers are affected by this payment delay and the total amount of the delayed reimbursement payments will be about $157 million. The current payment delay does not affect MinnesotaCare payments or payments for in-home services.
One of the largest providers being affected by this delay is Hennepin County Medical Center.
Vice President for Public Policy and Strategy Mike Harris says their delayed June payments will total about $19 million. He says they can deal with a one-month delay without major problems since "their operating performance has been a little bit better than normal this year." However, if the delay continues after June 30, "it will be very challenging."
If the government shuts down July 1 and payments are delayed further, Harris predicts they will reduce service levels, seek relief from vendors and delay capital projects.
Posted at 5:15 PM on June 23, 2011
by Paul Tosto
Here's a quick look at some of what we've been reporting on today on the potential for a Minnesota government shutdown.
Most doctors will be able to renew their licenses. MPR's Lorna Benson reports a deal is in place with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice that will let doctors avoid any lapses in their license coverage if a shutdown happens. She also reports that nurses and dentists are rushing to get their state credentials renewed in case of a shutdown.
Schools and health care will take the first big hits The list of expected July payments from the state's general fund is heavy on schools and health. They'd be in jeopardy if the government shuts down July 1.
Clinics treating the poor are facing serious pain. With no public health care funding going out, a state shutdown has the potential to damage health care providers who meet the needs of low income people.
Child care could also take a hit. Some 26,000 Minnesota families received letters from the state earlier this month warning that their child care subsidies would be suspended in the event of a government shutdown.