The $35.7 billion budget deal brings to an end the nearly three-week state government shutdown, sending 22,000 laid-off state workers back to their jobs. This was the longest government shutdown in recent national history.
“I’m not entirely happy with what I’m signing into law,” DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said, shortly after signing a dozen budget and borrowing bills that cleared Minnesota’s $5 billion deficit. “It’s not what I wanted, but it’s the best option available. … It gets Minnesota back to work.”
Dayton criticizes the Republicans in their unwillingness to bend and agree to taxing the state’s wealthiest, instead borrowing money that will later have to be paid back. Dayton’s plan would have put the same percentage of taxes on the wealthy that everybody else pays.
The budget comes with large cuts to education, stopping some districts from receiving their needed and expected $700 million until the next budget comes out in two years. Another cut comes to healthcare, moving people off of MNCare and onto public insurance. It also doles out penalties to hospitals for not reducing the number of readmitted patients within 30 days of release.
The new budget comes amid controversy, many members of the house signed it reluctantly, one DFL member called it “The most irresponsible budget in Minnesota history; it doesn’t have my support.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune says many services are back up and running today, lottery and online fishing license purchases were up as of yesterday. Many state parks will take some time to re-open after a number of storms have felled trees. Angry trespassers during the shutdown also caused plenty of vandalism that needs to be cleaned up and fixed before allowing the public back in.
Most highway and state rest areas should be re-opened by Saturday. MNDOT however, could take some time before completely getting itself back together. The recent 100+ degree weather has caused road buckling on many highways and the minimal road crews during the shutdown fell behind and MNDOT will be playing catch up.
It could take weeks before all of the MNDOT employees are back on the job.
In local news casts many citizens of the state are making promises of change to their elected officials. Before his election Dayton’s campaign promise had been that no government shutdown would be allowed. Minnesotans are voicing their protest in blogs, newscasts and forums, stating that the current officials will not make it through the next election.