Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MN shutdown officially ends

This morning Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the state budget, ending the nation’s longest state shutdown in a decade. He said:

It’s not what I wanted, but it’s the best option that was available and would be for any time.
Dayton compromised with Republicans over spending and taxes in order to get Minnesotans back to work. The two-week shutdown resulted in the layoffs of 22,000 state workers, stopped road projects, closed state parks and rest stops and brought nearly all state services to a halt. It will still take a few weeks for workers to get back to work and all state operations to return to normal.

Dayton had wanted to include a tax increase on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans to close the budget gap, but Republican legislators would not have it. Dayton compromised by bringing $1.4 million into the budget through delaying payments to schools and selling tobacco payment bonds. In an lopsided exchange Republicans agreed to drop policy changes they wanted, including cutting the state’s work force by 15 percent.

In the end, Republicans were willing to shut down the state government, lay off over 22,000 workers, costing the state $23 million a week, in order to avoid asking Minnesota’s 7,700 millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes.