Minnesotans starting to feel impact of state shutdown

by
July 7, 2011

By Mark Sommerhauser, St. Cloud (Minn.) Times

Bob Pogatchnik has spent 25 years in the workforce. Now, Minnesota’s state government shutdown has put him in an unfamiliar place: the unemployment line.

Pogatchnik, 45, of Albany, is a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) mechanic. He applied for unemployment insurance Tuesday after he was laid off because of the shutdown.

The reality of the shutdown, which began Friday, started to set in this week for Pogatchnik and about 22,000 other state workers who have been laid off.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders met for a second day Wednesday to try to settle the dispute over taxes and spending that led to the shutdown. No progress was reported.

The shutdown resulted from an impasse over how to erase a $5 billion budget deficit. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents to provide more money for social services and public education. Republican lawmakers oppose any tax increase.

State officials say they won’t be able to calculate the shutdown’s full cost until it’s over, but they have quantified some of the notable losses: $1.25 million a day on the lottery, $1 million a week on state parks, $52 million a month in uncollected tax revenue that idled state auditors would have brought in. The cost of other shutdown casualties — including 100 road construction projects — has yet to be calculated.

“Nobody believes the state is saving money,” said John Pollard, spokesman for Minnesota Management and Budget, the state’s finance agency.

State parks are losing $1 million a week in camping fees, park passes, concessions and gift shop sales, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

To read more, visit: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-07-06-Minnesota-shutdown-budget-impasse-Legislature_n.htm

 

 

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