As I'm sure you know by now, the Minnesota government began its shutdown on July 1 due to a budget impasse between the governor and the legislature. It is now Day 6 and no deal is in sight. Several news outlets (see below for links) have reported that the two sides did not meet over the 4th of July weekend, but began talks again yesterday regarding a budget deal. It still remains that the governor wants to raise taxes on high income-earners (those making more than $1 million/year, a total of 7,700 Minnesotans) in order to allow for increased state spending, while the legislature wants to cap spending on what is currently available in state funds so as to not increase taxes. In an attempt to help bridge the divide between the DFL governor and the GOP-led legislature, former Governor Carlson and former Vice President Mondale have organized a 6-member bipartisan commission (which includes two individuals from the business community and two former state finance commissioners) to come up with a solution to the budget crisis.
Governor Dayton also revised his request to fund certain services as critical core functions after hearing testimonies from various organizations and agencies on Friday. The new services requested to be funded include:
- all forms of child care assistance (not just TANF-related),
- chemical dependency treatment services funded by Consolidated Chemical Dependency Treatment Fund,
- Rule 78 mental health grants,
- HIV case management and HIV benefits counseling services provided by Minnesota AIDS Project,
- crime victim services (domestic violence programs, battered women shelters, supervised visitation centers, sexual violence shelters, abused children programs, sexual assault victim advocacy programs, and general crime programs),
- services funded through the Long-term Homeless Supportive Services Fund, the Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program, and the Transitional Housing Program,
- adjustment to blindness training,
- county Emergency Assistance programs,
- payments to individuals under Emergency General Assistance and Emergency Minnesota Supplemental Aid,
- state support to issue benefit payments of these unspent funds,
- employment service providers funded by the TANF/MFIP Consolidated Fund,
- refugee resettlement programs funded one hundred percent through federal funds, and
- special education funding.
Other appeals to the court were heard yesterday, from organizations such as Store to Door and the Minnesota Trucking Association.
Although the legislature has stated that it does not want to increase spending or raise income taxes, Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers has stated that increased revenue through gambling, changing the way Medicaid is handled in the state (needs approval by the federal government), borrowing against future tobacco settlement payments, or delaying payments to schools could be options approved by both the legislature and the governor. Governor Dayton also mentioned broadening the base for sales tax and increasing alcohol and tobacco taxes.
The next meetings are scheduled for today (Wednesday) at 1:30, with a focus on the Health and Human Services budget, and tomorrow, with a focus on education spending (about 40 percent of the state's budget).
Other recent news articles related to the shutdown:
- Minn. governor, lawmakers to meet as government shutdown drags on, judge weighs money demands [July 6]
- Time apart hasn't lessened the rigid divide [July 6]
- Fresh talks - for an hour - and an outside offer of help [July 6]
- Minnesota Government Shutdown: List of What's Open, What's Closed [July 6]
- More negotiations, but no fix yet from Dayton and GOP [July 6]
- 'Same gulf' divides Dayton, GOP [July 6]
- Budget talks: Where new revenues might come from [July 5]
- Dayton, GOP leaders talk briefly this afternoon [July 5]
- Child Care Costs In Shutdown Hit Low-Income Families [July 5]
- Minn. shutdown leaves laid off workers in limbo [July 5]
If you have any other information that is pertinent to this discussion, please let us know by leaving a comment. Also, we welcome your input regarding the government shutdown, including how it has affected your work or how you would solve the budget impasse.