The first wave of nearly 40,000 layoff notices went out to public employees in Minnesota yesterday a move which may signal that the state government is on the path to shutting down. 800 law enforcement officials received the notices and another 30,000 will go out at the end of this week if no budget agreement is reached in the state before July 1. Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the legislature’s last budget measure and the state is constitutionally mandated to balance the budget each year without an agreement the government will be forced to shut down.
With the veto, the state is expected to call a special session to deal specifically with crafting another budget measure for the Governor’s approval. Under the rules for special sessions in the state, this session can go on somewhat indefinitely and the Governor will have no say over what items lawmakers consider for the budget bill, observers say this could spell trouble for a variety of initiatives in Minnesota. Special sessions also cost money which puts additional pressure on the budget negotiations.
The state currently has a $5 billion budget gap and the Governor has called for raising taxes as a means of closing that gap. Republicans in the legislature oppose this move and are looking for additional spending cuts. The layoff notices provide advanced warning to state employees as the July 1 deadline looms. July 1 marks the start of the next fiscal year which is currently unfunded. Although the first wave went out to law enforcement officials including state troopers, some may be called back if the state determines that their job function is essential during the shutdown.
Shutdown plans and essential positions will be determined this week through a group of state commissioners and lawmakers.