Details of what a state government shutdown in Minnesota would look like are becoming a bit clearer. A Ramsey County District Court judge on Wednesday ruled that “core” government functions must continue if the government shuts down.
“The Court agrees with the Governor that the following critical core functions of government should continue to be funded after June 30, 2011 even if there is no resolution of the present funding dispute between the executive and legislative branches,” Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled:
- Basic custodial care for residents of state correctional facilities, regional treatment centers, nursing homes, veterans homes, and residential academies and other similar state-operated services.
- Maintenance of public safety and immediate public health concerns.
- Provision of benefit payments and medical services to individuals.
- Preservation of the essential elements of the financial system of the government.
- Necessary administration and supportive services, including by not limited to computer system maintenance, internet security, insurance of payments.
As Minnesota Public Radio reports, the court ruled that Minnesota is required to fulfill its obligations to the federal government, continuing to pay for programs like welfare, Medicaid and food stamps. Failing to do so would “violate the the constitutional rights of the citizens of Minnesota,” the court said.
Beyond the “critical core functions,” the court decided it doesn’t have the authority to order more funding, as the Star Tribune reports.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton released the following statement in response to the court’s order:
“While I am still reviewing Chief Judge Gearin’s order, it appears that her order arrived at the same middle ground as my Administration, and essentially agreed with my list of critical services that must continue. I prepared that list based on my constitutional responsibility as Governor to protect the lives and safety of the people of Minnesota. I arrived at that list with a heavy heart, knowing full well the important role that government plays in the everyday success of Minnesota’s citizens and businesses.
“Let me be clear: I would much prefer to find a fair and balanced budget solution, rather than a government shutdown. I am continuing to work toward a compromise needed to move forward.”
If the state’s government does shut down, state parks would close right before the Fourth of July weekend, and MPR reports that up to 22,000 state workers could be left without jobs.
Lawmakers have until the end of the week to avert shutdown. But with the deadline looming ever closer, the chances of reaching a deal before then seem to be fading.
Read TPM’s full coverage of the budget battle in Minnesota here.
Read the court’s ruling below:
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com