Minn. residents outraged over the shutdown
Despite an appointment, Bridget Spaniol of Minneapolis waited three and a half hours at a courthouse for a marriage license on Thursday, as the goverment slowed to a crawl. "The whole experience ... was terrible," she told the Minnesota Star Tribune. "I feel sorry for anyone trying to get anything processed through the Minnesota government."
State parks were also closed, which meant the sudden eviction of the 130 campsites at William O'Brien State Park. Water and electricity was shut off at the camp sites, meaning that the campgrounds would be vacated on the eve of the July 4th weekend, typically one of the busiest weekends for state parks.
"This is so unfair," said 8-year-old camper Ashley Jensen. "We were going to be here for four days and do lots of fun stuff. It's now all ruined."
"This is pretty sad, that they've ruined so many people's summer vacations with their families," said Allen Bjerke, who serves as campground host. "The Legislature is behaving like a bunch of kids."
One visible sign of the shutdown is that no flags - Minnesota, American, or POW-MIA - were raised over the Capitol on Friday morning as they usually are, reports the AP.
State employees whose livelihoods depend on the government were bracing for a blow to their pocketbooks as statewide furloughs went into effect for nonessential staff.
"My fiancé works for the [Pollution Control Agency]. We are supposed to close on our house a month from today, and if he's laid off that could potentially affect our financing... I'm disgusted by them all, both political parties," Emily Flynn of Minneapolis told the Minnesota Star Tribune.
"My son has Down syndrome, and he will lose his state-funded job at Functional Industries, which is out in Buffalo, Minn. We were sent a letter from his state-funded house but as of now, he will still be able to live there. Totally innocent victim," said Carolyn Bauer of Albertville, Minn.
The shutdown will also hit the private sector.
For example, the renewal of professional and liquor licensing will be halted. James Nelson, owner of The Independent bar and restaurant in Uptown Minneapolis, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the business will be shuttered during the government shutdown due to a liquor license issue.
Pharmacies were feeling the squeeze, as the Human Services Department for the first time postponed its June pharmacy payments until July as another budget gimmick to balance the books.
Ron Johnson, who owns several drugstores, said the state has delayed paying him around $90,000 for prescriptions that Medical Assistance patients received in June, but would not allow him to hold off on the $12,000 in state sales taxes that his stores were required to 'prepay' for the month.
Meanwhile, as the delays of holiday weekend traffic loomed, state highway construction came to a standstill. Workers were scrambling late Thursday to shutdown 100 Department of Transportation projects around the state while minimizing danger and inconvenience to the driving public.
And holiday travelers looking for a break from the road will need to find an alternative to high way rest stops, which were also closed at midnight.
"Last night on the way home from work, I saw all the wayside rest [areas] shut down. ... I think everyone that needs to use the restroom this weekend should go to the governor's house," Gary Edstrom of Glenville, Minn., told the Minnesota Star Tribune.
At the Canterbury Park race track, up to 1,000 employees will be furloughed, according to track spokesman Jeff Maday. Since the track is regulated by the Minnesota Racing Commission, and employs state-licensed veterinarians and stewards, racing will be halted because of the government shutdown.
"This is a five-day racing weekend, with over $1 million in revenue. It's a big weekend," said Maday.
Contractors who depend on government funding to work were also looking at a period of unemployment. "Today, I was working on (U.S.) 169 and (Interstate) 494... Tomorrow, probably not," said Jason Fernandes, a pile driver for a construction firm, on Thursday evening. His job helps supports his three children, his late brother's two children and his stay-at-home wife.
July 1, 2011