Childcare aid pulled amid MN government shut-down

Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin rules that only critical core functions of state funding will continue pending the state shut-down on Friday.

She allowed for most of the services recommended by Governor Mark Dayton to remain in effect. Basic care would still be provided for Minnesotan’s in prisons, nursing homes and veterans homes, but she did feel some editing was needed.

According to court documents released this morning, the United States of America Attorney General’s criteria to define core or essential government services is:

  • Those services providing for National Security
  • Those services providing for benefit payments in the performance of contract, and
  • Those services providing for conducting essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property

This means that police and other emergency responders will remain. The welfare system and housing systems currently in use will also remain, however it has not been made clear if new applicants will be able to receive the services.

“The race tracks and Childcare are both important,” says Gearin, “but not critical.”

Parents that use the childcare assistance are in one of two categories, they are either actively job searching, or are on a one year transitional program to wean them off the assistance.

Now, with the loss of childcare subsidies during the shut-down, those job searching parents will have to make phone calls, write resume’s and attend interviews while caring for their children.

The Minnesota Zoo will continue to receive funding for the minimum number of staff required to care for the animals, however, in spite of the Zoo’s request that they remain open, they will be closed.

They receive 30% of their yearly budget from the state, and while admission sales would allow them to fund themselves through the summer, Gearin doesn’t want to take that risk.

The list of functions outlined in the court documents is long, and among those to be closed are Licensing centers, the nursing board, the lottery, Ombudsmen board, the Disability Council and Human Rights Board.

Millions are going to be affected by this shut-down and both sides are making things difficult for each other. Governor Dayton is still refusing to pass a “lights on” bill that would call for special session, stating they must at least come to a budget agreement first.

Another closed door session is scheduled for today between Dayton and house leaders, pivotal talks need to happen to stop the largest shut-down in state history. However, with time running short and similar sessions occurring and failing daily for the past week, the odds are against it.