The Legislature is back in session, but the shutdown isn't over yet. And many state workers are wondering what to expect once the governor and lawmakers agree on a final budget.
The Minnesota Management and Budget Office provided some information today. They released the following FAQ:
Q: When will employees return to work?
A: Employees will be recalled to work by their agencies after bills have been signed into law by the Governor. The Governor's signature on the appropriations bills allow the legal authority to for the state to operate. Once a bill is signed into law, the agencies will implement their recall and communications plan. Just like there was a process to stop operations, there is a process to bring operation and employees back online.
Q: Once they are recalled, when should employees return to work?
A: Employees are requested to return to work at their normal time on the date of the recall. For employees that work in the 24/7 operations, their supervisor will indicate when they should return. We want our employees back. If extenuating circumstances exist, the previously agreed upon MOU, allows the employee three days to return which can be coordinated with their supervisor.
Q: How will employees be notified?
A: Information will be posted on www.bereadymn.com. Additionally, each agency has a communications plan ready to implement. Agencies are using numerous communications tools including but not limited to working with members of the media, calling trees, hotlines for employees to call, websites, emails, and other social media tools.
Q: When will services return to normal operations? When will state facilities be open to the public?
A: Our goal is to return services to normal operations as quickly and safely as possible. However, the return to normal operating levels varies from agency to agency. Various programs and services will take longer to return to normal than others. Agencies were functions at different levels. Some agencies were completely closed. Furthermore, some areas of state service will certainly face a backlog of work due to the break in service. Please contact agencies for specific requests.
Updated at 2:50 p.m.: Bill will allow the expansion of Medical Assistance to continue, but will make changes to MinnesotaCare.
Lawmakers say the Health and Human Services bill is finished. But it's not available online yet. Lawmakers finished discussing the bill at a news conference a few minutes ago.
Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, responded to concerns that the public doesn't have enough time to review the bill before it comes up for a vote.
"There are not dramatically new things that will be seen in the bill," Gottwalt said.
The bill's release is being watched closely -- and for good reason. It's the largest section of the state budget. And it's been the source of sharp partisan disagreement for months, or years, really.
The GOP released a statement a few minutes ago saying the bill "leverages innovation and reform to make Minnesota's HHS system accountable, responsible and sustainable."
The statement quotes Senate HHS Chair Senator David Hann saying:
Our reforms have changed the structure of the HHS budget. We are now anticipating growth in the next budget to be less than 5 percent. The average forecasted growth in spending per biennium over the past decade has been 15 percent.
We'll post more details about the bill once it's available.
The State Capitol reopens tomorrow morning. The lobbyists will be there. Will you?
Here's what Gov. Dayton's office said, in a statement released tonight:
Governor Mark Dayton today ordered the State Capitol and State Office Building to re-open to the public, beginning at 9:00am Tuesday, July 19, 2011. The Governor ordered the doors opened to allow public access and transparency as the Legislature prepares to reconvene to pass a budget.
Gov. Mark Dayton said this morning he was awaiting a counter offer on the budget from Republicans and that he understood it was nearly complete.
It appears now he'll be waiting awhile.
Republican leaders at an afternoon press conference simply restated they want Dayton to call lawmakers back into a special session to deal with bills where they say they and the governor are near agreement.
Republicans have not made a budget move since June 30 except to push for a lights on bill.
Republican officials say there are six bills with $19 billion in spending where they and Dayton are only $91 million apart and that and those bill could put 16,000 out of 22,000 laid off state employees back to work if the governor would call a special session.
MPR News reporter Tom Scheck, though, reports that Dayton's staff says they are not close on those bills.