Minnesota state government shuts down

Posted at 12:00 AM on July 1, 2011 by Paul Tosto (15 Comments)

Minnesota state government has officially shut down most operations, putting more than 22,000 people at least temporarily out of work and setting the state into uncharted political waters.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders spent weeks talking but could never bridge the fundamental differences over additional taxes.

It's not really clear what happens next, how long the shutdown will last or what long range effects it will have on Minnesota's political landscape. But it's here.

From MPR News reporter Madeleine Baran

With no budget deal in place, the state government shut down at midnight, forcing more than 22,000 state employees out of work, halting highway construction projects and closing state parks and rest stops.

Only the state government functions deemed critical by a Ramsey County judge are continuing as usual.

A shutdown seemed all but certain late Thursday night when Republican legislative leaders and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton broke off negotiations. Both sides showed few outward signs of progress toward closing a $5 billion budget gap for the next two-year budget cycle, which begins Friday.

Dayton and Republican lawmakers held separate news conferences Thursday night. Both sides argued that they were not responsible for the failure to reach a budget agreement.

Dayton blamed Republicans for refusing to accept tax increases to close the state's $5 billion budget gap, while Republicans said Dayton should agree to a "lights on" bill to keep the government functioning for ten more days.

Republican leaders delivered the temporary funding proposal to the governor's office Thursday night.

"The answer to the shutdown is now in the governor's office," said Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, at a news conference a few minutes later.

Dayton refused to sign the bill, calling it a "publicity stunt" designed to shift blame for the stalemate. The DFL governor, speaking at a news conference at the Capitol, said he offered two budget proposals Thursday, but both were rejected by Republican lawmakers.

"This is a night of deep sorrow for me because I don't want to see this shutdown occur," he said.

The governor has proposed raising taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans to support more spending, but Republicans have rejected the plan. The Legislature passed a $34 billion budget with no tax increases, but Dayton vetoed it.

On Thursday, Dayton said he offered additional spending cuts and then proposed raising taxes only on the roughly 7,700 Minnesotans who earn more than $1 million a year. Republicans, he said, rejected the proposals.

Instead, he said Republican lawmakers offered a $1 billion revenue raising option that consisted of delaying $700 million in payments to schools and borrowing against funds from the state's tobacco companies' settlement. Dayton said he rejected those options as not really raising revenue.


Comments (15)

Mounds of debt? Mounds of debt? Are you serious? You cannot have mounds of debt with a state budget. That's why it shut down. Way to plug the generic GOP "concern for our children" into the conversation. This guy cracks me up.

Posted by Dane | July 1, 2011 12:22 AM


Very dissapointed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I do believe this is just to tick off the population. Maybe it's an I don't like you situation at the expense of many unfortunate people. The population should hold taxes until a resolve is met!!! How about that People of the state! Don't shop in Minnesota withold the revenue.

Posted by Trish | July 1, 2011 12:27 AM


It is very easy to get mad a the current governor when we should all remember who left us in this mess. I hope our former governor is happy with the mess he left for the State to clean up. Now it is definately being supported on the backs of the poor and middle class!

Posted by Heather | July 1, 2011 12:46 AM


So let me get this straight, according to these (expletive deleted) Republicans "The WANTS of the few far out-weighs the NEEDS of the many." It's Prince John all over again. WHERE IS OUR ROBIN HOOD? Ooh wait, this time it's for real and not some movie or fairy tale.
I wonder, do these politicians we elected to serve and protect us still get paid while the rest of us struggle to take care of our families, worry about losing our jobs (because we have no Day Care or transportation) and our place to live (because without our jobs there's no money to pay our bills)?
Also, since we have no government (at the moment and no telling for how long do to the shut-down) do we still have to pay taxes? If so, I want to know what happened to the "NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION."

Posted by Edith | July 1, 2011 12:50 AM


@ Edith of course they will still get paid, along with all there staff. They voted and passed this a week ago as 35000 state employees received layoff notices. They also get a 1600 per diem and a housing allowance. Isn't every MN families food budget $1600 a month?

Posted by David | July 1, 2011 12:57 AM


Edith you have a valid Point! Representatives should get nothing.. No paycheck, no health benefits, and the definitely a meeting with the boss! That would be us! If you or I did not do the job we were hired for we would be fired! And the Tax without representation Wow!! I work or should I say volunteer my time to help the homeless and those who are on the verge of being homeless find a place to live and or work things out with mortgage company's or land lords to remain where they are. The State just made my volunteering a very difficult job. I would like to see out politicians do my volunteer job for just a month and see the devastation this shut down will bring!

Posted by Jennifer Sather | July 1, 2011 6:25 AM


It is necessary to raise taxes. The Right's agenda, to destroy all public programs that assist the poor and elderly, while allowing the extremely wealthy to avoid paying their share is short-sighted, at best, and corrupt, at worst.

Dayton, himself, is one of those wealthy Minnesotans -- and he is willing to raise his own taxes. We need more responsible leaders like Dayton.

Posted by Mary Kay Lundmark | July 1, 2011 6:52 AM


It's wonderful to see our Governor keep his spine!
This shutdown is going to be a disaster in my life, however; I'D RATHER BE HOMELESS AND HUNGRY THAN SEE DAYTON BACK DOWN!

Dear Gov. Dayton, hold the line, Minnesotans are a hardy bunch, we can weather a storm. Kep your head up and keep your promise to us!
We are with you.

Posted by Michelle | July 1, 2011 7:16 AM


I can not believe that republicans get away with what they do!!!!!!!!!!!! Its like small spoiled children that punish others until they get thier own way... Bullys and selfish individuals that put thier own needs above others that truly need it. If I made over a million a year your Damn right I would expect to pay moreout to help the ones who need it most. But that obviously is not the way the Republican party feels,, after all they are the privledged, who are we to tell them they cant have thier cake and eat it too

Posted by jacki | July 1, 2011 9:31 AM


Governor Dayton, I appreciate what you are trying to do, and admire your conviciton,, it must be so hard to work with money hungry selfish people that truly do not care about thier fellow man. How can you possibly meet in the middle with these people? I dont know but if anyone can, I know it will be you. Hang in there and dont let the self centered Repulican party win...... Its time we put the pompous fools in their place

Posted by jacki | July 1, 2011 9:37 AM


CUT CUT CUT is not a plan.

Posted by Eric | July 1, 2011 11:38 AM


@Jennifer Sather just so you realize the leg also has the option to opt in and out of paying for the same insurance that all MN state employees pay for. Meaning they do not have to contribute to the pool until they decide they need health insurance then they can "opt" in pay for the month, get that expensive surgery and charge the group and then opt back out and continue to pay nothing! That's about a $6000 a year savings for them on a family plan by opting out.

Posted by David | July 1, 2011 11:54 AM


WOW minnesota, when it goes and gets tough, shut down and let people be jobless, like my mom(: thaaanks your politic prick!

Posted by RENEE | July 1, 2011 7:06 PM


I've said it before and I'll say it again, It's way past time the American people take the government back into their hands. Most of today's problems lie in the hands of our "glorious" senators. They can be fired and they need to be. Most of their ideas only hurt us. They talk about the good for America and it's people when what they mean is the good for themselves and their friends. They are tainting what America truly is as they rape us of any chance to make progress and wipe their a@#!% with the constitution. This is NOT what the forefathers wanted when they laid down the foundations for us. I can't understand why more people don't grasp the fact that the government works for us and DO something about it. We need to kick most of them out and start fresh. I think a senator should be given a flat rate wage not exceeding what the average household makes, they should know what it's really like in our world, THE REAL WORLD for most Americans out there, and be treated like EVERY other working citizen. That's what they are! The rich SHOULD be taxed, they live here too and I bet they received a free education at a public school as well which is where a senators salary is needed, to the people who educate our children and those who actually protect us, people who risk their lives in the line of duty for their community members. The bottom line is can't succeed with people who refuse to work together, and we also can't continue allowing ourselves to suffer and lose more while the rich gain what we lost and then some. So much is broken and it's past time we fix it.

Posted by Q.M. | July 2, 2011 8:36 AM


My letter to Governor Dayton:
It is absolutely asinine for you and your Democrat and Union friends to be asking for more than the 12% increase (4 BILLION DOLLARS) included in our state budget.
What is your logic for doing this? Do you really want high income people leaving this state and taking their businesses with them?
This is exactly what has happened in California. In the last 6 years one and half million high income families have left the state of California.
Where do you think they went? They went to states like Texas, Florida and Wyoming where there is no personal income tax.
We are considering moving our small business to South Dakota. We are small potatoes, but if enough people like me leave, you will be left with a lot less taxpayers to foot your take care of everyone who doesn't want to work plan.
This state government is already loaded with too many employees who do little or nothing to earn their pay.
We are paying for people who should be made to get jobs, rather than suck at the public trough of welfare. When will you get the message? You can't have more TAKERS in Minnesota than MAKERS!
In the past 50 years more than a trillion dollars have been transferred to the poor. Surely a sum this vast should have made inroads against poverty. However, these trillions in entitlements have been accompanied by an astronomical increase in criminal behavior, a runaway plague of alcohol and drug addiction and stupendous breakdown in the family unit. Trillions directed at poverty have led to an astonishing increase in the number of poor and an explosion of street people and homeless.
The late management guru Peter Drucker said, "The evidence is thus crystal clear. Modern welfare destroys. It does not build competence; it creates dependence."
Government does not cure poverty, government creates poverty!
We are making it too easy for people not to work. We are taking away their self-esteem by giving them my and other citizens of Minnesota's money.
Governor Dayton, take the silver spoon out of your ass and realize that the hard working citizens of this state are already paying high taxes, just so politicians like you can give it away.

Posted by Bill Schult | July 8, 2011 8:53 AM


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