State park managers brace for shutdownPublished 10:59am Monday, June 20, 2011
AP and Journal reportsaffair
Managers at Minnesota state parks, including those at Glendalough and Maplewood in Otter Tail County, hope the state can avoid a governmental shutdown and that their parks can stay open.
“We’re like everybody else, hoping there can be an agreement before July 1,” said Jeff Wiersma who serves as director of Glendalough State Park northeast of Battle Lake.
The same holds true for Don DelGreco who is the new park manager at Maplewood State Park, east of Pelican Rapids.
This shutdown could touch the lives of far more people than 2005′s partial closure, which affected a few major state agencies and about 8,000 state employees. This time, virtually the entire state government could be involved, from state parks to road work. About 42,000 state and public college employees have gotten notices of possible layoffs.
Crystal Morales and Derek Cloutier can’t wait to get married next month in their dream location, a historical military chapel on the bluffs above the Mississippi River in Minnesota. One big problem: Fort Snelling State Park and its chapel may close July 1 if the Minnesota government shuts down.
Morales calls the spot “my whole image of what I always wanted, like a castle.”
Their July 16 wedding is just one of many plans that could be snarled by a second potential government shutdown in six years in Minnesota, brought on by another political impasse over taxes and spending.
“I can’t even imagine really getting married anywhere else because of how perfect it is,” said Morales on a breezy June day outside the chapel.
Minnesota’s looming shutdown is the latest and most frantic example of a state dealing with the recession’s lingering effects, a fiscal crisis and polarized politics. Across the border in Wisconsin, where one party controlled power, the combination led to swift, sweeping change and then backlash from those opposed to reforms affecting public workers and schools. In Minnesota, a divided state government has led to stubborn brinksmanship with no progress for months on how to fix a $5 billion deficit.
Here, as in 21 other states, there’s no way to keep government operating past the end of a budget period without legislative action, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Even so, only four other states, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, have had shutdowns in the past decade, some lasting mere hours.
Minnesota’s 2005 shutdown lasted eight days before then-GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is currently waging a White House bid, compromised on a budget with a divided Legislature. The equation is nearly flipped this year, with Dayton, a Democrat, opposite a Legislature controlled by tax-averse Republicans.
Both sides won power last November, meaning their negotiating prowess is being tested for the first time under the pressure of the potential shutdown.Tags: Glendalough, government shutdown, Maplewood State Park, State Capitol