As of midnight, July 1, Minnesota state government is shutting down, thanks our own Governor Goofy, Mark Dayton.
I've talked about the issues involved before, in this post, but it's worth a quick review. During one of the worst economic recessions in history, the Minnesota Legislature managed to pass a balanced budget that increased spending by about 9% for the two-year budget cycle, without raising taxes.
The Legislature increased funding for education, highways, the criminal justice system and other priorities. Dayton vetoed the budget bills because 9% wasn't enough of an increase: He was insisting on nearly $2 billion in increased taxes as well. (His tax hike bill was voted down in the legislature, 63-1 in the Senate, 131-0 in the House...the very definition of bipartisan opposition.)
The tax hike was a non-starter in the legislature, but Governor Goofy is insistent. And so, tonight, most of government came grinding to a halt. Even the editorial board of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, not exactly a bastion of free market conservatives, ridiculed Dayton's stance, calling his threat of a shutdown "hostage taking."
Now, the only people who are really going to notice the shutdown right away are people who wanted to spend the 4th of July weekend in a state campground. Those were shut this afternoon, and the campers sent elsewhere. Also, if you wanted to use a rest stop on the highway, you found those closed as well. The Minnesota Zoo will also be closed, but fortunately - if you just HAVE to go see animals in captivity - there's the fantastic Como Zoo, which isn't run by the state and has free admission. (Hmmm, maybe there's a lesson there about government efficacy?)
If you're not affected by those, it's going to be a while before you really notice anything. Personally, I can go quite a long time without the:
Department of Human Rights
Department of Tourism
State Arts Board
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Department of Commerce
Department of Labor and Industry
Board of Accountancy
Office of the State Archaeologist
Board of Assessors
Board of Animal Health
Chicano Latino Affairs Council
State Office of Climatology
Minnesota Film and TV Board
and most of the other agencies that employ these thousands of bureaucrats.
Shut 'em all down until Labor Day, at least, and maybe by then the voices in the governor's head will go away and he'll realize the basic economic folly of raising taxes in a recession.
In the meantime, Minnesotans can enjoy the little extra bit of freedom that comes with diminished government, which seems particularly appropriate for the 4th of July weekend.