Another Shutdown: Why You Should Be Paying Attention To Minnesota

Don’t look now but it looks like we might have another shutdown on our hands. Just a few months ago Americans and federal employees were burdened with 3 weeks of limbo wondering if the government would shutdown… and now for Minnesotans the worry that their state will shutdown is precious moments away from becoming a reality.

Here’s a link to a great article by TIME about the current situation in MN: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2079026,00.html

The thing that makes Minnesota’s current situation different from the other possible government shutdowns at the state and federal level is the sheer amount of things that will be shutdown. In the current shutdown 2/3 of the government would be closed. 46 agencies would close while 29 stayed open with minimal staffing.

….his shutdown plan is far-reaching, affecting payments to schools and cities as well as management of the lottery, state parks, construction work, roads, and much more. Yet the constitution also declares that Minnesota’s government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of its people. Dayton’s plan will preserve emergency services such as state troopers and guards for correctional facilities.

You can tell Minnesotans are bracing for a shutdown. Recently BeReadyMN.com was stood up to let citizens know what to expect when the sh** hits the fan July 1.

Making the situation in MN all the more interesting is that with a democrat governor and a republican house Minnesota’s situation mirrors the federal government, which could be fighting this same battle in Sept.

Maybe the most important question is with 6 state government shutdowns since 2002 and a federal government scare is the shutdown just part of government culture now?

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Profile Photo Ben

Would be great if we could distinguish between government’s purpose to offer basic services, and the bells and whistles that, over time, have been added to government’s responsibility. That’s what’s dragging government down. The sooner politicians become able to say no, and the rest of us become able to suck it up and stop depending on government to do everything, the sooner we will get back into budgetary balance.

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Profile Photo Jim Byerly

Ben,

Would you give us some examples of those bells and whistles? Are you thinking of health care for the poor? Perhaps you’re thinking of general assitance / welfare which is a way that citizens, through government, take care of our fellow citizens who have been less fortunate than average? Are you talking about building / maintaining our transportation system that benefits all of society?

Maybe you’re talking about public education which has long been the cornerstone of our democracy? Are you talking about our public health officials who are charged with protecting the health of the public from infectious diseases and food contamination?

I belive that the waste is not in governement, but rather a system where the corporations and the wealthy are not paying their fare share of taxes.

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Profile Photo Sonya

And let me add there’s a huge opportunity cost to the rumor or threat of a shutdown. We’ve spent hundreds of hours here at the County level preparing communications, alternate plans, and the response if it happens. We are affected directly. That was time we could have spent on actual projects that had some kind of tangible benefit.

Part of me is in agony to think that this could actually happen, as the impact is so far reaching and dramatic. A shutdown hurts REAL people. it’s not a vacation for government employees. But, I think the GOP believes it doesn’t hurt their people because they apparently function in a reality where government isn’t necessary. Their food & water keeps itself clean by magic, there’s no crime or mental illness, and nobody needs to be background checked to work with their children. Everyone is independently wealthy and connected enough to have access to any kind of private service necessary to be comfortable. Why contribute to something you so obviously do not need I say with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Another part of me thinks this needs to happen, to remind a lot of people exactly how much government does that needs doing. You don’t have to be a welfare mom to benefit from government. A lot of private, for-profit businesses depend on government contracts, are service or supply providers, and would be S.O.L. if government ceased to exist. There’s a domino effect to a government shut down of any length.

The State can’t be expected to dump its obligations to satisfy some bloodthirsty desire for spending elimination theater. It’s a good thing I’m not governor, or I’d have every elected official report back to me with a list of programs from their respective districts to be cut. Let’s all share some skin in the game here.

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Profile Photo Dawn Lautwein

As the article mentions, Minnesota has had a government shutdown before. I remember the rest areas being closed on the 4th of July weekend as we were passing through the state.

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Profile Photo Allen Sheaprd

Sonya,
The cost of contigency plans, informing the public, etc is wasteful only if its not used. Not used for a planned shutdown or an unplanned one. COOP, running on minimal staff, informing citizens should all be part of CAT (FEMA’s Continuity Assistance Tool) forms and plans.

IMO – fears of what will happen, what it will be like and what people should do for weeks or months raises most of tension and fears. Having plans to weather the storm regardless of how long would make people feel more at ease. CAT is suppose to help with that.
It sounds awful but *any* federal, state, tribal, county or local government can be shut down. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

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Profile Photo Gary G. Smith

As previously stated, MN has shut down before when Pawlenty had a Democratic senate and house. Most of the house lost the next election over it. It was a huge inconvenience for the universities and folks were not very appreciative of the inability of their representatives to work out a compromise. Given the clout that most of the labor groups have that are state employees, that may be a problem as well.

At that time, the Governor seems to get through it relatively unscathed. If I was a newly elected house member, I’d be concerned that my term is now over.

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Profile Photo Tricia

Arizona came close a couple of years ago. As of June 30th – the legislature was still in session well into the wee morning of July 1st. We actually had to call in on July 1st to find out if we were to report to work or not!

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Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

Sonya – Like this line: “Another part of me thinks this needs to happen, to remind a lot of people exactly how much government does that needs doing.”

Will citizens distinguish between the government that is politicians and the government that is public servants?

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Profile Photo Paul

It sounds like a few of the comments are from people who have not worked in the private sector. Government employees have a very good benefits program. IF you are a newer employee you not only get a pension but you are eligible to use the 401k program which has a very rich match program. The main issue I see is that most of you in government do not understand a profit and loss statement. That drives what a company can offer in benefits. Our company the government does not have a clue. We just keep finding ways to raise taxes or add some fee. If you would just for one minute read some of the budget data like Montgomery county where 80% of taxes collected go to pensions and those people are complaining. Governmetn workers are their own enemy because they do not care where the money comes from. Look at your IRS return. We need to be the example not the cause for government shut downs. The Maryland govenor jacked up taxes on the rich and what happened they left! Why is Texas adding 80k jobs this year so far!!! Folks we need to be the leaders not the cause for government shut down. Unions better wake up because more states like Wisconsin are going to get rid of unions. They are the cause because of their GREED.

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Profile Photo Sonya

Hi Paul – I know many of us here have had other career lives in private. Myself, I worked in private nearly 15 years before I got to government. I do love me a nice P&L, but there’s a reason we don’t have them in government. We’re not for profit and don’t have to pay dividends or shares to some elite board of directors. Here’s where you probably will disagree with me, but that’s OK.

I personally don’t feel that private employees deserve any less rich benefits than anyone else, and am really sorry the thinking has devolved to the point where good benefits are perceived as greedy waste. Employees are not disposable like tissue or plug & play like machine parts. They’re human beings, frequently with other human beings to support. I believe all employees everywhere deserve good benefits during their years of working and after retirement. I don’t know why the private world employees don’t get more upset when some benefit they used to have is stripped out to reduce overhead. There’s also a difference in benefits for us county people. We don’t get the same as federal employees – if only! I look at a good benefits package as part of the economic rent the employer needs to pony up to gain access to my skills whether I’m in government or not. It’s not waste because I traded my intellectual capital and time back to the benefit of the employer while engaged with their enterprise. It’s supposed to be a fair trade, not a trade where employers or employees dominate the other.

The threat of the wealthy leaving over taxation is noise. The uber wealthy already have their money stored abroad where it can’t be touched for taxation or contribution. Their money left decades ago and is sitting in the sun on an island in the middle of a very blue sea becoming quite fat at the expense of the locals. There is absolutely no supportable or documented correlation between corporate & wealthy individual tax breaks/reductions and economic growth. Not one person has been able to demonstrate that supply-side/trickle down works because it doesn’t. It hasn’t ever. I would love to see someone do an academic paper tying all the Bush era tax breaks to job growth and economic improvements, because the data won’t bear out. I am willing to change my thinking if somebody can come up with the data that shows money and prosperity are trickling down and not being hoarded at the top as the direct result of tax breaks for the rich.

The offshore threat is also noise. Not everything can be offshored. Once upon a time the wealthy had an attachment to their local roots. They wanted to stay where they came from, hire local people they knew, and shore up the local economy (through investment, wages, benefits, tax payment, and philanthropy) because it was a moral imperative to make things better. They realized everyone is interconnected. If they have the means to make it better, it can make life for everyone better, improving society. Today, it’s a “I got mine – heck with you – moral/shmoral” mentality – also known as hoarding. If a business owner is really so Montgomery Burns-like they would pull up and bear the expense of leaving a community over a % tax change, then they are pound foolish indeed. There’s where the greed lies, not with the employees who deserve a good wage and benefits.

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Profile Photo Paul

Very good response and I would agree with some of your comments. But to put the blame on the so called rich, I do not know. they already support us with a large percentage. The problem is we keep spending and at some point we need to reign in this mentality. We only force the rich to hide their money and by sending this money abroad it eliminates money available to create jobs.

As far as business going overseas, I would state that signs are showing some are coming back.

Granted we do not worry about a P&L but we should because we as tax payers are the ones who pay the bill.

We need to look at how we operate. There is no easy fix but it is nice to discuss issues becuase just maybe a good solution will arise..

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Profile Photo Dory Dahlberg


I am intrigued by the thoughtful, productive discussion occurring here. It’s nice to see folks with different views be able to talk to each other and try to come to some sort of understanding. As a local government worker and taxpayer in Minnesota I am embarrassed and angered by our esteemed “leaders” who have chosen to pout in their respective corners rather than reach a budget agreement. This group knew there was a deadline for their work and chose to ignore it. Average Minnesotans work to successfully meet deadlines everyday. We may not always 100% agree with the final results, but we fulfill our duties in accordance with the requirements of our employment. I expect the same from them.
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Profile Photo Paul

this is the exact reason many of our states and federal governmetn are in trouble. They cannot say no. Do we really want to be a socialistic country where we get everything paid for by government. that is the sole reason all countrys in europe ecept germany are in financial trouble.

Governments answer is to raise taxes. This is not a solution to the problem.

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