“Despite trying to reach a late night agreement on June 30, 2010 to create a resolution that would keep Minnesota’s government operating, a governmental shutdown in Minnesota has occurred. As of July 1, many state run programs began to close to the public. Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton and the Repulican legislature failed to come to terms with any agreement because of their differences in how to deal with Minnesota’s mounting debt crisis. Republicans demanded that Dayton hold a special emergency session to keep the state up and running, but any type of resolve to prevent the shutdown failed. The GOP proposal included stipulations such as the delay of $700 million owed to schools, which would add to the already $1 billion they already owe to the Minnesota school system. They also wanted a reduction of up to 15 percent of current state workers and a tuition cap to be put in place at the University of Minnesota. Dayton and the legislature have been trying to come to terms with some sort of an agreement since January of this year. For services to remain open, the two opposing sides needed to reach their resolution by the end of June, since an agreement of the budget has not been reached, the shutdown has already effected thousands of state workers and citizens of Minnesota. Governor Dayton, who won the election largely based on his promise to only raise taxes on the wealthiest citizens of Minnesota, can not agree with the GOP’s proposals.
The Minnesota Zoo and the Department of Natural Resources are closed and 23,000 state workers were laid off. Campgrounds and rest stops have been closed. State worker Lori Sobczak, who is a two year Department of Transportation employee says that rumors are flying because of the fear of the unknown.
Certain operations will remain open such as emergency operations like police departments, fire departments. Some parks and libraries in St. Paul will continue to operate.
Anyone trying to obtain a license such as a cosmetology license or a business license is out of luck. Kinya Gilbert, a 15 year old resident studied so she could get her driving permit on July 1, but since the shutdown occurred, the young woman has had to put her driving on hold.
The federally funded assistance program, Section 8, will not be adversely affected by the government shutdown right now. At this point in time, payments that are currently scheduled to go out for Section 8 recipients will still be sent and their services will not be disrupted. The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) in speaking with Metro Housing and Redevelopment (HRA) have stated that approval was granted to use other agency funds to cover Section 8 for approximately 2 months. A special reserve of funds can also be tapped for covering payments for Section 8 for a couple of months. Minnesota Housing will continue to pay bond holders throughout the shutdown.
Right now, the most needed governmental run agencies that have remained open are existing with the least amount of employees possible. The government’s website for Minnesota Housing states that the website is being minimally monitored, and a FAQ site has been put in place for those with questions about Section 8 and other housing concerns. The website BereadyMN, has a bare bones amount of information regarding the shutdown but does have a listing available as to what local agencies are still available to the public if anyone has concerns. Most of the agencies that remain open are departments such as: Military Affairs and the National Guard, Health Department, Corrections Department, Revenue Department, Public Safety Department, and the Housing Finance Agency.
The Minnesota Mortgage Program (MMP), will continue to run but they will not accept any new applications during the shutdown. New loans, as long as they were received and approved on or before June 30, will continue the approval process and will close as planned during the shutdown.
The Family Homelessness Assistance Program is not running. Without state funding the FHPAP has had to shut the doors. Minnesota Housing will not be permitted to run this organization or allocate financial resources during the shutdown. The Rental Assistance program will still be available for up to two months if the government shutdown continues.
Residents of Minnesota and state employees hope that common ground will be reached soon by the opposing sides of their state government and that the shutdown will not last long.”
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