As we wait for the House and Senate special sessions to resume so lawmakers can pass the 12 bills needed to end the state government shutdown, It's looking like it may take longer than we think to get state services back to normal.
MPR News reporter Tom Scheck is quoting Tina Smith, Gov. Mark Dayton's chief of staff, as saying it's unlikely at this point that state workers idled in the shutdown will return to work Wednesday.
Plus,Smith says Dayton plans to sign all the bills at the same time, so there won't be a of state services.
And state budget commissioner Jim Schowalter is reminding people that Minnesota government remains in shutdown and that it could take "a while, probably a period of weeks" to get things to how they were before started.
Schowalter adds that he's not sure when road construction, lottery and permits will be up and running.
He also won't say yet if state parks will be open this weekend.
The shutdown had its one-week birthday today. There are no budget meetings scheduled for the weekend.
But we have learned a few important things.
The court has issued a flurry of rulings dealing with services that were initially deemed non-essential. Among other services now open are the Minnesota Zoo, the Department of Human Services licensing division, and funding for some programs for the disabled and elderly.
Expect the court to issue more rulings next week.
A group of budget experts put forth their own plan to close the deficit, but neither Republicans or Democrats seem especially warm to the proposal.
The most recent budget offer came from Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday. He said he would agree to raising taxes temporarily on those making more than $1 million annually or increase taxes on cigarettes. Republicans said no to both plans.
With all the debate that's over Minnesota's budget impasse and subsequent government shutdown, it's easy to forget that lawmakers in Washington are grappling with the same troublesome issues of spending and deficits.
Right now, President Barack Obama and members of Congress are at odds over whether to raise the debt ceiling and how to curb the nation's long-term spending deficits; Democrats want to see more revenue and Republicans are opposed to the idea.
Similar arguments are being made here in Minnesota, writes MPR's Brett Neely. He writes,
The debates are similar enough that members of Minnesota's congressional delegation are even taking heat for the state government shutdown. Over the July 4 weekend, Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack was at a parade in Brainerd.
"There were a few people that were shouting out, 'Hey, you guys should be back to work,'" Cravaack said. "And I said, 'I'm on the federal side, but we'll probably be having that conversation in about a month.'"
Both in Minnesota and in Washington, Republicans like Cravaack say spending cuts, not tax increases, should be used to balance the budget.
For more on how Minnesota's budget battle mirrors the one happening in Washington, check out today's Midday interview with Minnesota native and political scientist Norm Ornstein.
Madeleine Baran's analysis of the Department of Human Services, which has found itself in the middle of the states budget impasse and of the government shutdown, is a must read.
Madeleine's done a fanastic job of sorting out where DHS gets its money, and why it has become a political flashpoint in this epic debate over the state's finances.
I feel smarter having read it. Here's her entire story.
On day seven of the government shutdown, there was no headway on budget talks, but lots of news coming out of Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin's office.
Today, she ruled that licensing operations at the Department of Human Services should continue. That means background checks for doctors and professionals who work in child care, for instance, will continue.
We also know that Gov. Mark Dayton wants Special Master Kathleen Blatz to rule homelessness programs and child care support critical after all.
The GOP is using Dayton's list of essential staff as ammunition in the battle over who's responsible for the shutdown. In addition to his chief of staff and press officer, Dayton's list includes his chef and housekeeper. But it's important to point out that Dayton's paying his chef's salary with his own money during the shutdown.
And a group of budget experts say they've got a deficit solution.
As this point, there are no budget talks scheduled for tomorrow.
A six-person panel assembled by two former Minnesota statesmen has proposed a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to close the state's budget gap.
The group, which includes John Gunyou, who worked for former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, and Jay Kiedrowski, who worked for former DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich, believes that $3.4 billion in spending cuts from current budget projections is in order.
The group also recommends $1.4 billion in new revenue to close the state's budget gap, including $250 million in increased human services surcharges, a tobacco tax increase of $1.29 per pack for $330 million, and a temporary 4 percent increase in income taxes for the coming biennium.
Sales taxes should be broadened and lowered in the long term, according to the plan.
The panel was convened July 5 by former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Sen. Dave Durenberger and Carlson.
In a press release, Dayton said that the committee's recommendations mirror his own budget proposals, save for one important detail.
"I respectfully differ with the Committee on their recommendation of a 4% temporary income tax surcharge on all Minnesota taxpayers," Dayton said. "My goal has consistently been to protect most Minnesotans from either an income tax increase or a property tax increase, by raising state income taxes on only the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans."
Here's what House Speaker Kurt Zellers had to say about the plan:
"The 3rd Way Budget Commission recommendation raises income taxes on every Minnesotan. It also taxes Joe Six Pack's six pack and makes those who smoke pay more. Like Governor Dayton's offer yesterday, this again shows that it's no longer about wanting a tax increase on the rich, it's about raising whatever taxes he can in order to spend more. Families across Minnesota are already struggling to make ends meet. This is not a solution. It is a retread of failed tax and spend policies. Republicans will not raise taxes to pay for unsustainable government growth."