Minnesota Republican House Leader, Senator Amy Koch and House Speaker, Kurt Zellers are in hot water this week after using the state e-mail system to send out a politically loaded message to state employees. The message was clear, they have no intention of changing their budget.
Many of the receiving employees have spoken out to the media, calling the act “immoral and possibly illegal.”
After Governor Mark Dayton refused to call the house into special session, as former Governor Tim Pawlenty was notorious for doing, the Republicans brought the issue to the courts on the 23rd where it was quickly shot down by Judge Kathleen Gearin. Only the Governor has the ability to call special session.
Upon opening the hearing, Gearin opened with her view on the chaos enveloping the Capitol, saying, “heads are spinning across Minnesota.” The limited government shutdown in 2005 and the threat of one in in 2001 were nothing compared to this. “this is unique, a far more sweeping issue, a far more significant crisis,”
Republican leaders are vowing that they will not allow any budget that is a penny over 34 billion dollars for the next two years.
They’re fighting over a 5 billion dollar deficit. Governor Dayton has proposed a 36 billion dollar budget by raising taxes on the state’s most wealthy. This comprises two percent of the population, but raising their taxes to the same percentage as the middle and lower classes will bring the state 1.2 billion dollars over the next two years.
Many house Republicans say they’ve given Kurt Zellers authority to negotiate a deal, provided that he refuses to accept an income tax increase.
Failure to complete this bill will cause a constitutional, total government shut-down in Minnesota starting on July 1st. Without the budget in place, the government cannot legally provide funding for anything. Thousands of workers have already received notices of lay-offs, affecting families and raising fears of a sharp economic decline in the future.
The trickle effect is working on everyone, even closing things barely tied to the state. Hiring of healthcare workers will freeze as the registry will be shut down and no background checks can be done. Even the race tracks, only tied by the State Racing Commission will be forced to close.
With only hours left before the deadline, Judge Gearin sums it up, “Keep talking,” she says, “The clock is ticking. The clock is ticking.”