The summer of 2010 was a great one for me and a lot of my friends and family. My husband and I took full advantage of our family membership to the Minnesota Zoo, bringing our children there almost every weekend. I got to see the red-hot Twins play in their beautiful new stadium. My best friend got married and honeymooned on the North Shore, hiking through Gooseberry Falls State Park. And in August, my friend Brian and I took a day off work and went to the Vikings training camp in Mankato.
This year? Well, as of this writing, the NFL lockout drags on, and a repeat trip to Mankato looks doubtful. The NBA just locked its players out last night, too, in a labor dispute that is expected to last into its season. The Twins are eight and a half games out of the lead in the AL Central. And, of course, a budget impasse has lead to the state government shutdown.
Fortunately for both attorneys and the general public, the court system has been deemed a critical service, and has been funded for 30 days. (Although not all courts… the Worker’s Compensation Court of Appeals and Tax Court, at least, are not operating during the shutdown.) If the shutdown lasts longer than 30 days, the court system’s funding will have to be revisited.
Although the courts remain open for the time being, the shutdown is closing many state-funded services and agencies. For my family, the Zoo’s closing is a big deal; we were excited about the new penguin exhibit that was slated to open soon. [UPDATE: The Minnesota Zoo reopened on Sunday after a two-day closure.] But this inconvenience is small potatoes compared to what other Minnesotans are facing with this shutdown. State parks are closed, meaning that events such as weddings that were scheduled in a state park will have to be moved or cancelled. The DNR is closed: no fishing or hunting licenses will be issued. The DMV is closed, so hopefully nobody needs to renew a license. Canterbury Downs is closed, laying off 1,000 employees. The Independent, an Uptown bar, has closed because it can’t renew its liquor license, laying off its staff.
I don’t have any grand insight into the shutdown, or pithy words of wisdom for dealing with it. I can only hope that legislators and the Governor realize that their inability to find a compromise has broad and far-reaching effects. While hard-line ideology can help get a person elected, it’s proving disastrous when it comes to actually governing. Many Minnesotans are being negatively affected by the shutdown, and I am sure that this won’t be forgotten come November elections.