Around MN: compounding the budget problem

Posted at 7:29 AM on July 7, 2011 by Michael Olson (0 Comments)

Shutdown adding to the budget problem

State officials won't be able to calculate the shutdown's full cost until it's over, but they have quantified some of the notable losses: $1.25 million a day on the lottery, $1 million a week on state parks, $52 million a month in uncollected tax revenue that idled state auditors would have brought in. The cost of other shutdown casualties - including 100 closed road construction projects - has yet to be calculated. (AP)

The closing of the express toll lanes and Giants Ridge public golf course and convention center means more than $120,000 a week will slip away.

Plus, Minnesota expects to shell out $8.5 million a week in unemployment insurance for the laid-off state workers, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. And it will pay $4.7 million to cover their health insurance weekly.

Those unemployed public employees, combined with the laid-off construction workers and social services providers who lost their state funding, are expected to drain $18 million in spending from Minnesota's economy each week, said Thomas Stinson, who was the state's economist until he lost his job on Friday. (CNN)

Parents await ruling on child care assistance subsidy

Child care assistance is one of many ongoing headaches in the state government shutdown, now in its seventh day.

Twenty-six thousand Minnesota families received notice from the state that their child care subsidies would be cut off in a government shutdown. But the money comes from a pool of federal, state and county dollars. A judge could decide if those dollars can be sorted, and possibly distributed toward child care. (MPR)

Day care owners feel pain of shutdown (Saint Cloud Times).

Workers' comp claims in limbo

Without a working state government, there's no forum to resolve the disputes that embroil thousands of Minnesota workers over workers' compensation benefits.

Last year, some 13,000 workers' compensation disputes were filed with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Workers, employers and their insurance companies argue the validity of claims or attempts to change, reduce or end wage and medical benefits.

The cases are typically resolved by the department's mediators. Or they go to judges working for the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Resolution for workers' comp disputes was not ruled an essential service that should be sustained through the government shutdown. Those mediators and judges who deal with those cases have been laid off for the duration of the shutdown.

"If there's a dispute, currently we're not offering resolution services. There's no mediation or other resolution for workers' comp disputes," said James Honerman, spokesman for the Department of Labor and Industry.

Most workers' comp claims are filed with and paid by employers' workers' compensation insurance providers. The shutdown won't likely won't current claims, as long as they're not disputed.

There may be no ruling for those who are awaiting settlement of a conflict, such as with the claim filed by Shawn Dockter, who said he injured his back and neck while working for 16 years as a machinist.

Dockter expects a decision this week about an insurer's denial of his claim for past and future benefits, a claim that could easily top $100,000. (MPR)

Shutdown halts signup for angel tax credit

Start-up companies hoping to benefit from Minnesota's angel tax credit program have been unable to sign up investors because of the state government shutdown.

The program offers qualified individuals a 25 percent tax credit on their investments of at least $10,000 in Minnesota start-ups. (Star Tribune)

Shutdown results in suspended water permit for Duluth manufacturer

A letter notifying the Georgia-Pacific hardboard plant in Duluth that its surface water use permit has been suspended has management in a quandary about whether they can continue to operate the facility, which employs about 140 people. (Duluth News Tribune)

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