'Budget Solution' Meetings
The legislature and Governor Dayton have scheduled meetings throughout June to discuss budget solutions to prevent a government shutdown beginning July 1. The two sides met a few times this past week; so far, the GOP-led legislature has offered to increase spending in K-12 education, public safety, and the courts, but will not increase revenue. Governor Dayton stated he will not accept a budget proposal that does not allow for revenue increases.
Politics in Minnesota discussed some possible budget solutions that could arise from the meetings. These include creating and/or raising user fees, "sin taxes" such as those placed on cigarettes during Pawlenty's term, tax expenditures (getting rid of some of the nearly 300 tax breaks and exemptions in Minnesota such as on clothing), Medical Assistance surcharges on providers, one-time money (such as delaying payments to school districts), expanding gambling, and "Amazon tax" (for online purchases).
As of Friday, around 36,000 state employees received layoff notices, effective July 1, 2011, pending a government shutdown. Some employees will be deemed "essential" and will not be laid off, but it has not yet been determined which employees will remain on the job. This layoff will have a major impact, considering the state is the single largest employer, with almost half of Minnesota's workforce employed at just three state agencies: human services, transportation, and corrections. The government shutdown will also affect agencies and organizations that receive federal funding, because federal funds are received hrough the state.
A good source for information on what may happen during a government shutdown can be found at the Legislative Reference Library, which has created the Minnesota Issues Guide: State Government Shutdowns, based on what happened during the 2005 government shutdown.