November 22, 2017

Minnesota Shutdown Hurts State Parks

“With the prolonged government shutdown in Minnesota, state parks are one casualty, David Schaper reported on the NPR website July 8.

A budget battle between Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republicans in the state Senate forced a court ordered shutdown of non-critical state services July 1, the second state government shutdown in the Minnesota in the last six years. Among state services that have felt the blow include workers overseeing gaming operations, approximately 100 state construction projects as well as Minnesota’s state parks.

Afton State Park, a half hour drive from capital St. Paul, is locked up Schaper reports. This is during the peak season for camping permits, fishing licenses, concession sales and trail fees. With July the busiest month of the year for state parks, Minnesota is losing $1 million a week in revenues.

Although there are other states facing contentious budget battles across the country, Minnesota is the only state currently shut down. Governor Dayton and Republican leaders have been unable to close a $1.4 billion gap between their budget proposals and no talks are currently scheduled to settle the impasse.

Beyond the lost revenue to Minnesota’s parks, vandalism is a concern. In Afton, Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton arrested over twelve people for destruction of property and burglary for damage done to the park’s cabins and natural areas.

Tracy Larsen and J.R. Lerner had planned to go fishing at Afton on Larsen’s bass boat before they discovered it was closed, Shaper reported. They said they would try to find another private boat landing but it was disappointing to find the state park closed considering the state-run parks have the best facilities.

Lerner said he blamed both political parties for the budget mess. “”It’s awfully silly that a bunch of [grown-ups] — who were elected by the state to do that — can’t get it done. I mean, that’s their job. They’re professionals.”"”

NPR.org

Minnesota shutdown longest in recent history, no new talks – Reuters

The Cost of Minnesota’s Shutdown: A Warning to Washington – Time Magazine

Lottery dollars pour into Wisconsin during Minnesota government shutdown – KARE 11

Minnesota shutdown threatens insurance regulators, could put consumers at risk – Life Insurance News