We are on Day 14 of the great Minnesota Shutdown, and finally we are seeing some action. The Republican Party still has not put forth any budget offer since their final offer on June 30th, but a few things have changed in the meantime.
The state is running out of booze.
It started slowly, as news leaked out that bars and restaurants were unable to renew their liquor licenses as long as the government was shut down, meaning they would be unable to purchase supplies. Some establishments, like the St. Paul Hotel, prepared for such a problem and stockpiled well in advance. But others, who couldn’t afford the outright expense, got a little nervous.
Then it stopped being Miller Time.
Yes, despite the children without childcare, the nursing homes who couldn’t be restaffed, the 16,000 government workers furloughed without pay, the construction projects at standstill all over the state, the rest stops that were closed, the teachers who couldn’t get certified and all of the other issues that hurt Minnesotans, things finally got ugly when the state learned that MillerCoors couldn’t renew its brand license in the state, and was being forced to pull every last bottle and keg out of stores and bars.
Yes, the great beer battle was on.
We’ll never know if the threat of a dry Minnesota was the impetus or not, but Governor Dayton chose to make a new counter-offer to the MNGOP — one of many that he had proposed since the beginning of the shutdown, and by far the most appealing to the Republican party since, in basic structure, it was their own final proposal to him. There would be no raising of taxes — either the increase on the top 2 percent of earners he originally proposed, or the two year increase on the top 7,700 Minnesota earners he proposed afterwards. Instead, it was their plan of even greater K-12 educational “shifts,” meaning more cuts to schools, and a cash in of more tobacco bonds from an earlier settlement.
There was just one catch. When the GOP made this offer, it was under the condition that Dayton agreed to no bonding bill, a 15 percent reduction in workforce across the entire state payroll, and a handful of social issues ranging from abortion bans to voter id laws, ending collective bargaining, banning stem cell research, revamping EBT and even accepting the Republican plan to redistrict the state going into the 2012 election.
For Dayton to agree to their proposal, the GOP simply needed to agree to a $500,000,000 bonding bill, rescind the labor reduction, and not ask for any social issues. And after over three hours behind closed doors, the MNGOP finally agreed to his terms.
Of course, now there will be a need to find a way to recover the lost revenue for the two weeks of shutdown, which is expected to be in the tens of millions at least. The legislature is now preparing to meet in a special session, where we will see if the deal really will pass, and whether the GOP keeps their word on not tacking on social issues.
Photo credit: William Wesen