Minnesota is closed. Call again!

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.


  1. What a horrendous situation. I hope the “leaders” (said in jest or at least with a doubt) get their act together to protect the people! In CA, the budget is notoriously late that finally–and this took years–a bill was passed that would keep the legislators from being paid if the bill was not signed on time. They would no longer have salary and office allowances and staff, etc. They made the deadline for the first time in forever.

    It is crazy-making!

    • What a marvelous idea, to not pay the legislators if they don’t meet their legislative deadlines! Hmmm … you have me wondering how we might be able to get a similar law on the books in my fair state. As you say, it’s crazy-making to see a bunch of (supposed) adults acting like petulant first-graders — and to consider the tremendous negative impact their actions are having on people’s lives. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment, Patti!

  2. I hope you don’t mind, but I tweeted this post, and another person retweeted it. I think it’s the kind of information people need to know.

    • I don’t mind in the least! Quite the contrary, in fact — I *want* the word to get out. It doesn’t seem that our legislators are in too much of a hurry to resolve this budget crisis, and lots of innocent people are paying the price. So, thank you for passing this along!

        • I was just telling my husband that story about three minutes ago. It’s wrong on so many levels …

          Again, thanks for helping spread the word. I know I’m being naïve, but I’m still hopeful that my legislators can be shamed into taking action. Soon!

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