MN State Government Shuts Down, Battle Lines Drawn
Friday, July 1, 2011
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The state government shutdown that's been looming for months is now a reality in Minnesota, as Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature were unable to reach a budget agreement before the deadline. Even before the clock struck midnight, both sides were out with the 'tough talk. Andy Birkey, senior political reporter at the Minnesota Independent, says it's now getting downright ugly.
"Some of the GOP members have lobbed some mental illness slurs toward Mark Dayton. And on the DFL side, the big deal has been making a link between the abortion debate and the budget negotiations."
Birkey says both sides are standing firm, but as more and more Minnesotans are affected, he's convinced the pressure will increase to get something done.
"I think it's just that nobody wants this, and I think there's going to start being more rumblings in the respective parties to get something done pretty quick."
The biggest and most immediate impact of the shutdown is that roughly 23,000 state workers are now off the job until who knows when. AFSCME Executive Director Elliot Seide says it will be a struggle for them.
"Our members make on average $38,000 a year. They live paycheck to paycheck, like every Minnesotan. Relatives. Friends. Neighbors."
Seide says the laid-off state workers are eligible for unemployment and will continue to be covered under their health insurance plan.
"But, when they come back to work, employees will have to pay their share of the premiums, so that'll be a bill that comes due, even after they come back to work."
Today, a special master heard from various groups who want their funding restored so they can continue operations through the shutdown. As for talks between Gov. Dayton and GOP leaders, nothing is yet scheduled.
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