Rich Galen
The State Minnesota is shut down. Sort of.

The Republican-controlled State Legislature of Minnesota couldn't agree on a budget deal with the Democratic (officially the Democratic-Labor-Farmer party) Governor, Mark Dayton, in which the D-L-F Governor wanted tax hikes to be included in a plan to balance a $5 billion budget deficit and the GOP House and Senate leadership said, "Nah."

According to the timeline on the Minnesota Public Radio website, on May 23, 2011 - 38 days before the shut-down went into effect:

"The Republican-controlled Legislature adjourns after passing its budget bills to resolve a $5 billion budget deficit. In the days following, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton vetoes all the budget bills except the one funding the Department of Agriculture."

Legislature passed bills balancing the budget but the Governor vetoed them. Ah HAH! The shutdown is clearly the Republicans' fault.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote two weeks ago:

"Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's highest earners, a plan Republicans reject. The GOP has proposed cuts far deeper than Dayton says he can live with."

Does any of this sound at all familiar?

The Star-Tribune, on Sunday, published a list what is open and what is not, including:

-- Medical Assistance, food stamps, welfare benefits, child support payments, county child protection services, refugee assistance, supplemental aid and some services for disabled people will continue.

-- A judge ruled that food bank services must remain open as well.

-- Child-care assistance, services for the deaf, Senior and Disability linkage lines and criminal background checks will stop.

-- Electronic signs on freeways are dark, traffic cameras are off, highway helper trucks are idled. About 100 highway construction projects have been suspended.

--Minnesota Historical Society's 26 sites and museums as well as all state parks will close.

-- Unemployment benefits will be paid, state colleges and universities will be open, and buses and rail lines will operate. A big fight was, apparently, over the zoo which was supposed to be closed but was ordered re-opened by a judge. It wasn't the rhinoceroses fault that the top of the food chain couldn't get its act together.

It seems to me that this is a great test because we will be able to watch and see what Minnesotans decide what they can and cannot live without when it comes to state services.

The 20,000 laid-off state employees can apply for unemployment benefits, but state legislators were allowed to take paychecks for July as scheduled last Friday. According to McClatchy News Service, in the House, 87 of 134 members opted to take a July paycheck. Of the 66 State Senators, 52 started the weekend with their July paychecks in their pocket.

Not exactly candidates for the next edition of "Profiles in Courage."

Governor Dayton announced he would not take his paycheck while the state is shut down.

With all this going on, you would think the Star-Tribune would have nothing but shutdown news on its website. However, yesterday morning the lead story was:

"Powerball ticket price goes from $1 to $2 next year; Starting jackpot to go from $20M to $40M"

The real deadline for getting this deal done is September 2 when Garrison Keillor is scheduled to be with the entire Lake Wobegon team to tape an episode of "A Prairie Home Companion" for broadcast the next day at the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights, MN.

No budget deal. No State Fair. No Lake Wobegon.

Woe to us.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.