Minn. shutdown costs put at nearly $60 million

Published 1:19 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ST. PAUL — Minnesota budget officials said Tuesday that a 20-day government shutdown in July cost the state nearly $60 million but saved it about $65 million in salaries that weren’t paid to state employees.

In a report released Tuesday, the Minnesota Management and Budget department said the state lost almost $50 million in revenue and spent about $7 million preparing for the shutdown and $3 million in recovery costs. Those cost estimates could rise, it said.

But that was more than offset by savings in payroll costs for about 22,000 state employees laid off during the shutdown.

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The report did not include lost productivity and other, unspecified “indirect impacts.” The shutdown angered and inconvenienced many Minnesotans, delaying road construction projects, shutting down state parks and the lottery and cutting off the flow of alcohol to some bars.

Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said that except for those state employees, the shutdown was essentially a wash because a court-appointed master ordered that many programs were essential and had to be funded during the shutdown. State spending continued at an 80 percent clip.

“The broad economic impact didn’t really occur,” Schowalter said. “The biggest story was the human impact, and the impact on the state’s reputation.”

The shutdown came after Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative majorities couldn’t agree on how to close a $5 billion budget shortfall.