Longest State Government Shut Down in Last Decade Ends

The Minnesota shutdown draws to a close after a very long month for many Minnesotans. Once all the details were hammered out in the five days of closed-door negotiations between Republican leadership, Committee chairs, and the Dayton administration a special session was called Tuesday 7-19-11 at 3p.m. The session went throughout the night, ending with Gov Dayton signing the legislation 9a.m. Wednesday morning.

The budget deal came after Dayton agreed to the GOP budget as proposed before the shutdown with some changes. The Governor agreed to not raise taxes and instead adopt the Republican proposal to delay school aid payments and sell bonds based on future proceeds from the state’s settlement with tobacco companies totaling $1.4 billion in one-time money. The Republicans agreed to Dayton’s terms and dropped the social issues, let go of their proposed 15 percent reduction in the state’s workforce, and agreed to assemble a $500 million bonding bill.

Some of the social issues that will be dropped include the Baby Pain Bill, which would have stopped abortion after babies can start to feel pain, banning funding for stem cell research, public employees’ bargaining rights, and the Voter ID Bill.

In a press release from Majority Leader Senator Amy Koch, Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) said, “This budget accomplishes what we set out to do: it does not raise taxes, cuts projected spending by $2.5 billion and bends the cost curve of unsustainable state spending. Our economy will be stronger as a result of not increasing taxes on businesses and job creators.”

In the same press release House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) said, “We looked at every area of the budget for reform to reduce costs and improve service delivery. We didn’t cut for the sake of cutting but for the preservation of sustainable services that meet the evolving needs of Minnesotans. Our nation-leading reforms, particularly in the area of health care, will serve as a model for other states.”

The end of the shutdown was well received news for many. Although it may take a few weeks to get things back to normal, many services are ready to begin as early as today. Between the loss of lottery sales, tax audits, state park fees, the cost of unemployment and health benefits for laid-off workers, and other unknown factors, the shutdown has cost Minnesotans millions, which we cannot quantify since the people that create those figures are laid off due to the shutdown.

Both Republicans and Democrats are touting the deal as a win, but who really won? While Republicans lost all progress on social issues and the proposed 15% cuts in state employees, they agreed to support the $500 million bonding bill. On the other side, all Governor Dayton lost was his tax increases. In an article on Forbes, House Majority Leader Matt Dean admitted, “We did compromise with the Governor in giving him more money, more money than a lot of Republicans wanted to spend, more money than I wanted to spend.” Do you think that the Republicans made the right decision to agree to Dayton’s terms or should they have held out until bigger reforms were forth coming?

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