The Minnesota State government has been shutdown for nearly a week now, and there still seems to be no sign of a deal in the works.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton made two offers to the state Republicans yesterday as a way to bridge the last bit of missing money — a two percent tax on anyone earning more than $1 million a year, to expire in 2013, or a $1 per pack cigarette tax hike. In both cases, the state would delay K-12 school payments to cover the rest of the funding gap. The GOP turned down both proposals.
Meanwhile, the state is beginning to suffer under the shutdown, and of course it is the elderly, the poor, the disabled and women who are being most affected. Nursing homes, hospitals and other state care facilities, although they are staying open, are now running without any oversight or inspections, and services for the less needy are being reduced or cut off all together. Daycares and home care entities can no longer get licenses, starting a backlog of providers who cannot answer the growing needs of the population. Some battered women shelters are not accepting new residents because they have no more money, and other child care centers are laying off employees because parents can’t afford to keep their children in care now that state subsidies have ended. Parents of children with disabilities are continuing to see their state support dwindle, and for many, losing that additional support for care could mean losing their own jobs, too.
Republicans continue to argue that they are simply doing what their constituents voted them into office to do. But even their own voters are starting to revolt, saying this isn’t what they asked for at all. “My vote included in that mandate never implied that you were to unconditionally support an intransigent partisan position that flatly refused to negotiate or compromise and that ultimately led to the stopping of our state’s legislative heartbeat,” complained one voter in a letter to the editor.
Negotiations are expected to continue today to at least pin down the amount of deferred payments the state will be trying to obtain through their K-12 funding shifts, but other than that little progress is expected. Each day that the state is shut down, Minnesota is estimated to be losing $1.5 million per day, most of which is not likely to be made up one the state is running again.