As the shutdown loomed, I asked state employees how they were preparing at home and at work. Now the shutdown is here and I want to hear from everybody. All sides are angry, and I’m hearing much diversity in that anger. Some blame one side only; others blame both. Some are focused on mere inconveniences (vacation spots, roads); others on certain suffering (unemployment, suspended services). It’s all important and part of Minnesota’s new, if temporary, reality.
What’s on your mind today? What do you want the politicians to hear? As always, I’ll be reading what you write and pulling some of it up from the comments and into this post to create a living document of these first days of the shutdown.
One humble request: I’m looking for diversity of opinion. Share yours and speak as strongly as you need to. Argue where you feel you must. But please, no personal attacks. Let’s get as many voices as we can into this thing.
Your voices (updated 7/5/11 at (9:00 AM):
Note: What you see here are excerpts I’ve chosen from the discussion flourishing in the comments section. Click on a commenter’s name and you’ll be taken to their full comment. There is much more in the comments and I hope what I share here will only drive you there to read more and to add your voice.
“We need a constitutional amendment so that the legislature can also call a special session, so that the governor can’t hold the state hostage. Part of the deal is that all of the legislators, the governor, and all the constitutional officers should face serious personal financial penalties for each day the legislature is in special session.”
– Mike Schumann
“The state is obliged to take in enough income to cover the cost of running government and providing the public services people require. Conservatives claim tax cuts create the jobs that provide the revenue.
“Why don’t we take them up on their claim by creating a new state tax benefit for each “new” job created and maintained for at least a full tax year.
“But in the meantime, to ‘encourage’wealthy conservatives to put their money where their mouths are, raise their taxes enough to balance the current budget. If the wealthy prefer creating jobs to paying higher taxes, then they’ll put their financial feet to the proverbial pedals and get those new jobs on their books as soon as possible.”
– Gerald Abrahamson
“If the GOP is so confident that it really is the will of the people that there not be an increase in income on the top 2% – ludicrous position in my opinion – then why not let the people decide in the next election?
“I am confident of the result. In fact, regardless of what happens, there WILL be a tax increase on high earners in the next legislative session.”
– Bill Gleason
“As a recent college grad and a non-traditional student, after months of interviewing, I was about to be hired by a nonprofit company that provides support services to people with disabilities. It was the first job that had decent pay, decent hours and decent benefits. But, my employment hinged on whether or not the state shut down.
“That company is now scaling back services and will reconsider discontinuing ALL services in about three weeks. All healthcare graduates need background checks FIRST in order to work with any vulnerable adult or child. The state isn’t processing them, and by law, the companies can’t do them using an independent source. So, healthcare companies, including clinics and hospitals, can’t hire new workers, and there will certainly be a need for people.”
– LeAnn Santana
“Thousands of Minnesotans are not working today through no fault of their own. Hundreds of out-of-state guests are out of luck if they are in need of a rest stop. Thousands of people are inconvenienced and there is no clue when the shutdown will end. Yet, when Republican Senator Amy Koch was interviewed on KSTP today her last comment to Tom Hauser was ‘I’m staying. I’m not going to the Lake.’ If that is an example of GOP sacrifice, it’s no wonder the government is shut down.”
– Elaine Leach
“Other than my daughter not being able to get her driver’s permit (this may be a good thing), I’m waiting to see how the shutdown will affect me and my family personally. I feel sorry for the folks who made plans to use the state parks, go to the MN Zoo and who may face a more difficult commute come Tuesday morning. I feel terrible for the displaced state workers.
“What ever happened to the idea public service and the common good? Al Quie and Arne Carlson were able to work with the DFL to fix budget problems and to look out for the long-term good of the state. We survived those crises when both sides made compromises. To fix this mess, most all of us will need to feel a bit of pain, be it some kind of service cuts or higher taxes.”
– Scott Stocking
“I am convinced more than ever that the long and short term solution lies in a non-renewable consumption tax and moving away from an income tax to create a stable tax base. The DFL must get a tax skewed toward non-renewable resources and subsidies for the poor to remove the most regressive elements and the GOP gets a broad based consumption tax that creates investment incentives and does not tax income. Senators Bakk, Howe, and Miller have indicated a willingness to work on this and Governor Dayton is already listening but the GOP leadership may not be.”
– Michael Bowler
“This morning’s Strib had an article about the State of California passing and their governor signing a new law that would apply the State’s sales tax to internet purchases in CA, even from companies that do not have a “brick and mortar presence” in that state.
“I wonder how much revenue MN could generate per year if it could EFFECTIVELY capture the 7%+ it now loses (via something like the new CA law) on all those internet transactions from non MN located companies like Amazon? “
– Paul Linnee
“I am a state employee. I and most of the colleagues with whom I work stand with the governor and are incredulous that the Republican lawmakers would use their roles as public servants in this manner. As public servants, we do not
and should not have the prerogative to purposefully postpone and then leave our work unfinished because we cannot compromise with other colleagues. Many of the rest of us take our responsibilities as stewards of the state’s resources quite seriously and would never bring to our work a single-minded and self-identified approach to our work.
“Republicans have traditionally prided themselves on being good business-people but where are those principles now — needs assessment, perspective-taking, context, science-based, balance, compromise, and KNOW WHO YOU SERVE.
“As Governor Dayton has been trying to communicate, Minnesota is a humane state. We value our citizens. All of them. We work TOGETHER for the common good.
“I cannot overstate my sentiments in saying that this is embarrassing and shameful and is tarnishing our state’s reputation across the country and it will be decades before the voters of Minnesota forget that the blame lies at the feet of the conservative legislators.”
– Department of Health employee
“Dayton needs to hang tough. If the republicans think they are representing what the people want,they are sorely mistaken. I do daycare for single moms, I am not getting paid for them while the government shuts down. You say “Don’t take them then?” There is a fine for that!”
– Deb Reed
“The vast majority of Minnesotans will feel zero impact from the shutdown. The ‘users’ of government — the non-profit sector for the most part, are impacted, the ‘payers’ are not. This is a classic battle of payers vs. users, and the payers are not gonna take it anymore.”
“Getting a budget in place should occur at the start of session and be the guide for all else. That is how businesses operate [and] Minnesotans with their household budgets!”
– Tasha Coats
“My understanding of this conflict is that the GOP refuses to acknowledge an increase in state costs and Mark Dayton spearheads the defense for education and health care. What nobler causes are there? As for the GOP, they’re fighting for tax cuts for the absolute wealthiest citizens.
“My perspective on this is colored. I’ve been traveling through SE Asia for the past half year, and I’ve seen tourists checking out rooms for $2,000/night, and villagers slicing up old bicycle inner tubes to strap their homes together. I have no compassion for people who need to preserve their billions of dollars in order to enjoy the most indulgent, wasteful, prideful things in life when the rest of the population needs education and health care. I fully support Dayton and hope he doesn’t budge an inch.”
“Rather than borrow money to fund the spending (the last GOP proposal, as I understand it) how about a temporary tax surcharge on top incomes that will expire after this budget? Then the Republicans can campaign to get a veto-proof majority for next time, the DFL can campaign that this is the right balance, and the next election decides.”
– Steven Webster
“This government shutdown seems to be about people getting re-elected more than compromising and doing their jobs. No one wants to step away from the party lines and make an advancement toward compromise.”
– Kathy Malloy
“The whole state will suffer, no matter who they are. Whether they are public employees or people in the private sector who rely on jobs (like contracts) through the state, we will all suffer. This is costly. No taxes will be paid while people are laid off. More people will be unable to pay their mortgages because they get no income; many people live from paycheck to paycheck, especially in this economy. The state is already suffering loss of revenue.”
– Ginny Martin
“I hope that now that we have finally gotten to the point of a shut down, you can help people look a little further and see that the shut down is just a preview of the way that Minnesota was headed under the Republican proposed budget.
“Yes I am unhappy about being told my work is non-essential, laid off and having to figure out how to live with a 50% family salary decrease, but I am tired of the shut down being portrayed as someone’s camping trip cut short or having to find a restroom in a gas station on I35.
“I am OK with a few weeks without pay if it would result in the general public actually looking at the budget that was vetoed and seeing how many of the cuts we are experiencing as part of the shutdown have a good chance of being permanent if the republican budget was enacted. Yes, there are devastating projected human impacts, but there is a huge potential impact to our natural resources as well.
“I want the people asked to leave the state parks and wondering why they can’t get a fishing license today to actually have a thought of the state’s role in protecting and managing our woods, wetlands, water and wildlife instead of just thinking about their own inconvenience.”
– Joan, a state employee
“After the House and Senate go through a “cleansing” in 2012, Governor Dayton will be able to work with his Democratic houses. The GOP does not understand two (2) English words that require simple yet great skill: Negotiate and Compromise.”
– Arnie Hillmann
“STOP paying Minnesota state sales tax. STOP paying Minnesota state income tax. If the government is shut down, we are getting nothing for our money. When these people who call themselves leaders are ready to sit around the table and negotiate in earnest and resolve their differences on behalf of the well-being of all Minnesotans, then and only then should all Minnesotans entrust their hard-earned money to them.”
– Bonnie Hayskar
“According to a legislature mandated bi-annual study by the MN Dept. of Revenue, The 2011 MN Tax Incidence Study for the year 2008, the total tax burden including all state and local taxes, that is, income, property and consumption taxes, as a percentage of total personal income, was 11.5% for all categories of income, except for the top 10% for which it was 10.3%. Therefore, those of us in the lower 90% income categories are subsidizing those in the upper 10%. This regressive taxation is an embarrassment to many of us in the top 10%. I think Governor Dayton is simply trying to get the 10% to be at parity with the 90%. That is called proportional taxation. His phrase is “fair share” taxation. There seems to have been a quiet class war going on for the past three decades and the top 10% have clearly been winning that war in MN.”
– Jim Jeffries
“Governor Dayton made a fatal mistake. He should have started negotiations with same absurd position the Republicans did. If he had stated six months ago that he would not allow for any cutbacks, and insisted that the entire shortfall be addressed through tax increases, then he and the Republican legislature would be starting from similarly ridiculous positions and they could have possibly compromised in the middle. But he foolishly started from the middle — a position of reason and logic. Sadly the Republican legislature appears oblivious to reasoned compromise. For this, our once great state will pay a dear price.”
– Scott Muggli
“Hopefully we will all remember the pain and frustration that we are feeling now when it is time to vote again this fall. Surely there must be more reasonable people in the state than those who currently occupy the offices in St. Paul? Is there no one left who loves Minnesota and takes pride in being from this worthy state?”
– Kris Felbeck
“The Republican approach only gets us more of what we already have: damage, destruction, and economic stagnation if not recession or depression. It is time to take Dayton’s approach and begin moving back in the direction of the days when Minnesota was seen by the nation as ‘Miraculous’ and as ‘the state that works.'”
– Greg Kapphahn
“This borrowing from other funds (i.e. schools) really has got to STOP! To me there’s not much of a difference — borrowing is borrowing. No more fudging to ‘balance’ the books, please!”
– Kristin Neises
“I was laid off from a stimulus-funded state job last September and am looking to go back into state employment because I had wonderful work helping people with their job search and education plans. Now as an unemployed person, the two main job sites I use are shut down and my dislocated worker program counselor is laid off because her employer isn’t getting funding from the state. People who are currently unemployed and in dislocated worker programs are having resources taken away from them that help with the job search. It brings tears to my eyes to know that this situation is going on and most people don’t know about it.”
– Heather Isaacs
“I am personally not affected by the shutdown, at least not yet, but still angry that our governor and legislators are unable to come up with a solution to keep government running. They should all be locked in a room and not let out until they reach an agreement. Also start docking their pay everyday of the shutdown.”
– Karla Thompson
“The fault lies with the GOP. They wasted time pressing their social issues. When they were finally forced to get down to working on and negotiating the budget they stuck to their stupid Grover Norquist no taxes mantra. And at the last hour, instead of negotiating faithfully, they used abortion, stem cell research and voter suppression bills as bargaining chips. They need to be voted out.“
– Vicky Christensen, responding on Facebook
“I think the legislative rhetoric has gotten ahead of some of the facts. House and Senate leadership repeatedly talks about “runaway spending”, “out-of-control government”, and so forth in defense of their no-tax-hike position.
“But according to the official figures compiled by the State Office of Management and Budget, state and local spending as a proportion of personal income — the “price of government” measure — has been basically flat over the past decade.
“Government spending was 15.5 percent of personal income in FY 2002, hit a high of 16.2 percent in FY 2006, dropped to 15.7 percent for FY 2012, and is projected to fall to 14.9 percent by FY 2015.
“It wobbles a little bit up or down year to year, but is basically stable over time. Even with rising demands and growing infrastructure needs, the price of government in Minnesota is unexcitedly, even blandly, flat.
“So, in this current budget battle, can we cool the rhetoric and rest our debate on factual information?”
– Roger Brooks
“The shutdown is entirely predictable. Didn’t we see it coming in November 2010? I certainly did. To those saying it is an embarrassment, I say to them: How many letters did you write to your legislators? Mostly the response has been: ‘I don‘t even know who represents me.’ That government doesn’t work is a reflection of a population that refuses to engage.“
– Joe Wenker, responding on Facebook
“We just came back from a dinner where the owner of the restaurant was deprived of his liquor license because of the shutdown [and] not completing paperwork before the closure. He said they would be alright for a month. Thankfully we are not in the ranks of those who are out of work, some permanently. I hope Dayton holds strong. He is right and they are wrong. Thankfully we have a governor who can act in integrity.”
– Judy Gibson
“I was hoping for some compromise and was looking for both sides to work together better. Now I totally stand with Dayton after seeing what the legislature was asking for. Not only did they not move on HHS cuts, but they also wanted him to cave on all of the social issues. Not a serious negotiation at all. The GOP owns this shutdown completely.”
– Darrell Gerber, responding on Facebook
“The positive side of the state shutdown is that people are thinking again about what’s important to them personally. As much as people like blast the government, one should consider what our state would look like if it weren’t for government. What would the kitchen of a restaurant look like? What would the deli look like where we purchase our picnic foods at the grocery stores? Would we have sex offenders working with our children because we don’t do background checks? The quality of life that we have here in Minnesota is pretty darn good. The Boundary Waters are Spectacular, the state parks are pristine, the lakes are blue, the air is clean, our elderly are cared for — what’s wrong with that?”
– Mary Schnell
“Good for us, we got exactly what we deserve! Hopefully at the next election there will have been a lesson learned here and Minnesota will again become that beautiful shade of blue.”
– Scott Anderson, responding on Facebook
“Is anyone surprised that government programs and services are shut down when they elect people to office who run on “small government” platforms? This is what it looks like when the size of the government is reduced.“
– Krista Menzel, responding on Facebook
“Unfortunately he Republicans allowed their true agenda to be exposed when they threw a bunch of ideological policy issues on the table. That says it all for me; pure ideology/politics, not what’s best for MN.”
– Patti Klugherz
“I am appalled that Republicans will not even consider an increase in the tax rate for the top 2% of income earners in this state. The MN Department of Revenue released a report a few months ago indicating that the top 10% of MN income earners have an effective tax rate of 10.3% and the rest of us an effective tax rate of 12.3%. The Republicans have that information and still oppose a tax increase on the top 2%.
“We need to keep in mind that this budget crisis was created by Republicans: Pawlenty, who refused to compromise during his eight years in office and work with Democrats to create a budget that didn’t get by on shell games, and the current Republican legislature, that will not compromise on anything. Remember that in 2012.
“The Republicans will try to engineer another budget crisis for 2013, so that they can once again push their agenda of lower taxes and cutting funding. They will do this every budget cycle, because for Republicans, a budget crisis is a political and economical tool. Remember that, too, when you go to the polls in 2012.”
– Brian Duren
“I do pay the top income tax rate – quite willingly I might add. But I also choose to live a modest life style – a nice home but certainly less than what I could afford if I so choose, careful about my consumption, frugal with my investments, and spend far more on the education of my children than I do on anything else.
“As a result of these choices, I do, indeed, pay a smaller percentage of my overall income in state and local taxes. But don’t say I don’t pay my fair share. I pay exactly what I should pay based on the choices that I make.
“So I am OK if the case can be made that spending $34 billion is not enough to run the state during these troubling times. But lets do it the MN way by having everyone pitch in – by adding a temporary tax surcharge to all income. I have a higher income – so I will pay more actual dollars. I am OK with that since everyone who is able to earn an income is contributing to the solution.
“And as a very staunch, conservative Republican, I will be the first to badger my legislator to vote in favor of such a plan.”
– Tim Milner
“In these politically polarized times, it seems that the overwhelming majority of our elected officials in both parties have drawn the perversely counterproductive conclusion that shutting down Minnesota’s state government — and preparing to blame their opponents later — is less painful than compromising with each other in time to keep this government working for all Minnesotans. I don’t believe that’s the way it feels to the rest of us, particularly if we have to pay the price for our politicians’ failure to do their jobs.”
– Eric Paul Jacobsen
“We should have a constitutional amendment requiring an passable budget by the legislature’s mandated adjournment. Penalty for failure is that EVERY legislator of a failed session is immediately required to stand for election in the November immediately following.”
– Chris Reynolds
Beth Hawkins: It’s unclear what shutdown will mean for some school programs
MinnPOTUS: Could Minnesota shutdown hurt Pawlenty?
Earlier: Government shutdown starts early — and ugly
Related: Text of Gov. Mark Dayton’s shutdown announcement
Christian Science Monitor: State shutdown mirrors larger US debate