Published 9:31 am Tuesday, June 28, 2011
By Catharine Richert, Minnesota Public Radio News
Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders have been meeting to discuss their differences over the state budget, but a shutdown looms Friday. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the shutdown:
Q: Which government services would continue during a shutdown?
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A: During a government shutdown, services that affect life, health and personal safety will continue. But those are broad terms, and ultimately, a court will decide which services are deemed “essential.”
Legal precedent provides some clues. During the 2005 partial government shutdown, the state continued to pay for prisons, state-run hospitals and various health care services, including nursing homes and mental health residential facilities, law enforcement and power production.
Other state services, such as state parks and drivers license processing offices, would likely shut down.
Q: How will the government decide which services to continue?
A: First, agencies compile and submit a list of what they consider critical services to Minnesota Management and Budget, which then makes recommendations to the administration.
But it’s the courts that decide what jobs and services are critical. Attorney General Lori Swanson has petitioned Ramsey County Court to effectively set up a framework for deciding which employees stay. In 2005, the court judge appointed a special master to hear petitions from agencies, as well as nonprofits and individuals who benefit from state grants or services.