Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota legislature have been tussling over the state’s budget since February. But because they were unable to reach an agreement, Minnesota’s government shut down on July 1.
Since then, state offices have been dark and the state parks have been closed. “But what about the people?” I’ve wondered every day.
This morning I got my answer, thanks to my friend Tom (aka., “The Blogfodder”).
MinnPost has set up a forum through which the 22,000 idled state employees can share their experiences—and the stories are heartbreaking. One woman and her husband may need to divorce to continue her cancer treatment.
To be honest, I’m very scared. The situation doesn’t look as though it will be resolved very soon, and we have only enough savings for a couple of months.
I just completed treatment for late-stage cancer. My cancer has a good chance of returning, and in six months, I’ll have no health insurance other than COBRA, which is $1300 per month. Pretty hard to pay when your income is zero.
I have a wonderful husband, but our Plan C is to divorce if things get really bad. My chances at state or federal health care are much better if I’m single. I can’t believe that it’s come to this.” — Laid-off Pollution Control Agency employee
This afternoon I got another email, this one from state representative Phyllis Kahn.
Today House DFL members held a press conference to ask six Republican members to join us to suggest a compromise solution to the budget stalemate. … We were joined by representatives from child care providers, disability services, and domestic violence shelters to highlight what is at stake … .”
People are at stake: The 22,000 state employees who are facing financial ruin, and the more than 500,000 poor and vulnerable people who have lost vital services.
And the tragedy is that it all could be avoided if only our elected officials understood one small (but important) fact: Elections may be all about partisanship, but governing should be about making things work.
So please get to work, folks. People’s lives are at stake.