FAQ: How state services are affected by the budget frameworkby Alex Friedrich, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how the budget framework that Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders reached Thursday affects state services, which have been closed since the shutdown began July 1.
Dayton has said details of the agreement need to be worked out before he notifies legislators to return to the Capitol. He planned on meeting with commissioners and lawmakers the rest of Friday.
Q: So when is the soonest things can get back to normal?
A: State, union and business officials have told MPR News they're hoping services can restart at the end of next week or early the following week. But it's tough to say, considering all of the legislative and procedural steps that must be taken.
Q: What are the first steps?
A: Governor Dayton says he's shooting for a special legislative session on Monday to pass the budget. To get there, his commissioners need to finish their budget work with the legislative committee chairs Friday. Dayton will read the budgets over the weekend and then, assuming he finds them in order, call the session.
But it hasn't been all smooth sailing. At least one meeting ran into early problems when a session on a state government operation bill ended abruptly over a disagreement about which policy provisions to eliminate.
Q: What happens if a budget is passed?
A: There's still a delay of a few days, because the state has to go through a few more procedures, including notifying workers themselves.
Q Because state workers were laid off, do they technically have to be re-hired?
A: No, and that should save a lot of time and paperwork. AFSCME union Council 5 spokesman Michael Kuchta, said a memorandum of understanding signed by the state and the union said the state didn't have to pay severance or unpaid vacation as in a real layoff. So it simply needs to recall employees when the time comes, and can notify them by phone, e-mail or by letter. Then employees have up to three days to report back to work, though many would return ASAP.
Q Will state workers get back pay?
A: The governor has said he hopes so, but Kuchta said he's not expecting it.
Q: Should state workers still apply for unemployment?
A: Yes, union officials are encouraging it. But because of the lag time between the time people apply for unemployment and the time they receive their first checks -- often a week or so -- employees probably won't be getting much -- maybe a check or two, depending on when they go back to work.
Q: How much time do state-dependent services usually need to start up again after being given the green light?
A: It depends on the business. A card casino could open within six hours of being given the OK, for example, and horse racing needs a day or so to start up.
Q: When will road construction begin?
A: The Associated General Contractors of Minnesota chief has said many construction projects would need a week. One contractor said they could get going by the end of next week or the Monday after that -- but it depends on events. Companies need to get approval from the state, and then recall their workers and get reset at the site.
Q: What about rest stops?
A: A MnDOT spokesman said it's unclear when they'll reopen.
Q: Has subsidized daycare been restored? Have kids returned?
A: Yes, That was reinstated earlier this week by the Special Master court ruling.
Q: Will the Special Master continue to issue court rulings?
A: Yes. Cases are already lined up for next week.
Q: Can people camp at a state park this weekend?
A: Officially, no. They're still locked up with no services such as water. It may be physically possible to get in for a day trip, but the DNR says that's inadvisable due to health and safety reasons. The Itasca State Park manager told MPR News reporter Tom Robertson, however, that Minnesotans might be able to visit next weekend.
Q: What about fishing licenses?
A: We've received no word that they're being issued yet.
Q: When will alcohol licensing resume?
A: Frank Ball , executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, said that based on information he's received, the state will resume issuing buyer cards and temporary liquor licenses as early as Wednesday.
Q: Is the Capitol open now that talks are resuming?
A: No, and that lack of public access concerns government watchdogs such as Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota. He has sent a letter asking GOP leaders open the Capitol, and has also asked them to make the final budget bills public at least 72 hours before the voting begins.