FORT SNELLING STATE PARK, Minn. (AP) — After enduring a 15-month deployment together in Iraq and more than a year living in separate states, 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.”

“I can’t even imagine really getting married anywhere else because of how perfect it is,” she said on a breezy June day outside the chapel.

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.

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.

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. Gov. Mark Dayton has asked a court to order that some essential services continue to operate, such as prison guards and the State Patrol, public health functions and emergency management. But many things — including the state park that would host the Morales-Cloutier wedding — aren’t on his list.

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 tax-the-rich 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.

Dayton and top lawmakers have met several times since the regular legislative session ended in May without a deal, but the situation hasn’t changed. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on the top earners, while Republicans won’t budge on a spending cap.

Failure to get a new two-year state budget by July 1 would force the shutdown. It could reach into areas where most people hardly notice the state’s role: closed traffic lanes on suspended road projects, new teachers kept out of the classroom because they can’t get licensed, state employees and their families thrown into precarious financial territory.

“If I don’t have a job come July 1, I don’t know what we’re going to do about paying our mortgage,” said Mark Proctor, a state employee who earns $47,000 a year training county workers to enroll people in public health programs. A layoff for the 42-year-old St. Paul resident would also mean his 18-year-old son would lose help in paying for college.

Tom Lindh, administrator of the Good Shepherd Nursing Home in the southeastern Minnesota town of Rushford, said he’s deeply worried about the 75-bed home if the state stops making Medicaid payments to healthcare providers. Lindh said about two-thirds of the home’s occupants are on Medicaid at any given time, making those payments a large portion of the facility’s operating budget. He said it would only take a few weeks before he would have problems making payroll and covering other vital expenses.

“Our residents have an average age of 87 or 88,” Lindh said. “These are very frail people with multiple, chronic medical conditions. About half have some kind of dementia. Many have no families and very few could function on their own. If this were to start stretching into multiple weeks or past a month, I literally don’t know what we would do.”

Also at stake are thousands of construction jobs. Bismarck, N.D.-based Knife River Corp. employs almost 800 Minnesota workers whose jobs could be shifted to North Dakota to complete contracts for a while, said company executive Tom Stockert. If Minnesota is still shut down when that work is done, “several hundred” of the Minnesota workers would be sent home, he said.

For now, Knife River is scrambling to get state permits that could be unavailable for local road projects if state offices close.

A shutdown lasting past Labor Day could hamper school finances, teacher licensing and school property tax levies, said Charlie Kyte, who heads the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

A Ramsey County judge has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to consider essential functions that would continue in a shutdown.

For Morales and Cloutier, both 25-year-old U.S. Army veterans, the uncertainty over their wedding is just the latest hurdle.

The couple met during training at Fort Lee, Va., and quickly became inseparable. They served in Iraq together from 2007 to 2008 during the U.S. troop surge, where Morales agonized on the base when Cloutier flew around the war zone to repair vehicles. Afterward, they went back to their home states but couldn’t stand living apart. He proposed the day she arrived in Minnesota from California to live with him.

“It doesn’t seem fair, with what we’ve been through, that when we want to come home and use something like a state park or a state chapel, that potentially now is going to be taken away from us,” Cloutier said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (56)
  1. oh dear says:

    Oh my, the government shut down threatens life as we know it. Did WCCO compile their list to dribble it out one day at a time or are they on a never ending search. The propaganda campaign never ends. And Dayton could solve all our budget problems if only those evil Republicans would let him tax the rich. We wouldn’t need a growing economy then.

    1. Guy says:

      “Minnesotans held hostage – The government shutdown – day 666” …

    2. Dustie says:

      “oh dear,” you really are cold, sarcastic, and ill informed. These are 2 Iraq veterans that served our country well and this is how you respond to a possible disruption in their wedding plans. COLD. The rich need to start paying their fair share of taxes and we need to cutting spending as well where possible. Grow up and get a life!

      1. Pennagirl says:

        The veterans could just move the wedding, inconvenient but capable of being done. I had to move my wedding date up because my husband and half of our wedding party was being deployed. It’s life, pick up your feet and move on..the veterans were taught how to do that. The rich BTW are paying their fair share and MORE in taxes. They are your employers. I would love to make $47000 a year from the state to train people to sign people up for welfare. I get nothing compared to that and I have a good above minimum wage job, which I can lose if my bosses are taxed even more.

  2. G Mason says:

    Now here is a good reason not to shut down the government,

  3. John Adam says:

    The government shutdown should include everything except medical emergencies. I could care less about government shutdowns because nobody was benefiting them anyways, so why would we care about them now. I would be happy if they lay off Judges, police,firefighter,teachers, highway workers,the media and even the devil lawmakers as well.

    1. Guy says:

      BETTER – Lay of the prison guards. Just lock the cells & come back in a couple of months with a backhoe … get a real & PERMANENT budget cut.

    2. Me says:

      Fine. Just don’t expect any services such as a firefighter or police officer when your house goes up in flames or your car jacked. What an obtuse thought process you have.

  4. Matthew says:

    Oh dear, these people might not be able to get married next month. Well guess what-if they were gay, they wouldn’t be able to get married at all…So tough cookies.

    1. Tom and Angie says:

      Hey Matthew-

      STOP BEING SO BLINDED! You would think since gays can’t get married, you’d have a heart and understand their situation! It takes a big man to think about other people over themselves.


  5. Steve says:

    These lawmakers need to get with the program. Stop spending on extravagance and cut some of these welfare programs and lets get on with the show so the TAX PAYERS of MN are not affected, whos money is actually being debated in the first place! Thank you!

  6. jfscsd says:

    Minnesota Shutdown wil halt all toilets from functioning properly..! ! ! ahhhh…

  7. reed says:

    Sign, the budget legislation now, governor Dayton, and quit trying to spend Minnesotans into oblivion.

    1. Pennagirl says:

      And quit blaming the GOP, the people of Minnesota sent them there to do the job. The governor however that is debatable, I bet his trust fund wouldn’t be taxed.

  8. en says:

    Do you realize that one man shut down the Minnesota Senate office in Washington DC. And now that same one man is shutting down Minnesota state government.

    Stop obstructing government, gov Dayton.

    1. CHESTER says:

      the rebublicans are holding ALL STATE EMPLOYEES HOSTAGE NOT THE GOVENOR

      1. its Dayton not the republicans says:

        So the fact that the legislators provided Dayton a Balanced budget that increased spending by 4 BILLION DOLLARS. with increased to education is just white noise to you.

        Dayton wont be happy until he gets his tax on the rich for more unnecessary state programs.

        oh and

        1. Dustie says:

          Do you realize that the Republican legislature had as part of their balanced budget cuts from needed programs for the lest amongst us and more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations? The legislature needs to get serious about negotiating and compromising with the Governor. The Governor has moved from his original position while the legislature is not negotiating in good faith. Who in the world would ask for more tax cuts with the size of Minnesota’s current deficit? The Republicans that’s who. Can we recall these legislators? And calling our duly elected Governor names and being nasty towards him is not a solution.

        2. CHESTER says:

          yes you found a rebublican website that bashes Dayton and the democrates the budget proposal by the rebublicans was all smoke and mirrors just ROBB PETER TO PAY PAUL WAKE THE ————— UP YOUR BEING BRAINWASHED BY THE rebublicans!!!

  9. Lenny says:

    Would someone please sober up the gov. so he can sign the budget bill.

  10. CHESTER says:

    fire all rebublicans they are wasting our money !

    1. paul says:

      Who cares egg them

    1. Pennagirl says:

      Right on, SGT…Plan B…military people always are taught to prepare for PLAN B.

  11. lauren says:

    I am the sister of the groom derek cloutier and what people don’t understand is that these to amazing people who stood on the front line and served this country can’t get married in there dream spot because this governor believe he has to raise taxes this just isn’t paper work we are dealing with its peoples lives and dream. These two people fought so that everyone in America could leave free and sleep in peace. Please just remember how much they gave up and sacrificed for you.

    1. Drunken Dissed Orderly says:

      So it’s the governor’s fault, but nobody else’s eh? BS.

      It’s a wedding, not a marriage. The wedding does not define their relationship. This bride to be needs to let her little girl princess wedding dream go, and get on with reality. If she wants to marry him, she will. If she just wants the wedding pictures, she probably won’t be married long anyway.

    2. Experienced Soldier says:

      As another veteran of two wars, I agree with DDO. They were already hooked up while deployed and took their time to come to a date and time for marriage vows. They’re getting a taste of married life like they did when they were deployed, like they are now that they’re home. Reschedule the date. No need to talk about divorce rates amongst military families with one spouse in uniform, little alone two.

    3. Mom of a bride says:

      I am a mother whose daughter is also set for a wedding at Fort Snelling on the same day as your brother. Rather than get all in a tizzy, my daughter called up her friends and family and asked us to hit the internet to see where else she could have her wedding. With in just one hr, we had several options available if it comes to that. The important thing to her is that a marriage happens, not a picture perfect wedding.

      Governor Dayton has to do what’s right for the state of Minnesota, not just a few.

      1. Pennagirl says:

        Thank you MOAB,

        I moved my wedding up because half my wedding party and my husband were being deployed for 15 or more months. Ended up not in December it was on a rainy Sunday afternoon in October between morning church and evening church.

        Praises for serving, but the marriage is what is important. Get married on the grounds near the chapel.

  12. Victim Du Jour says:

    Can’t they use volunteers at the Church to help out this woman trying to have her wedding?

    Why do government workers have to be getting paid for a Church service?

  13. Common Man says:

    Two years from now the government Unions will strike and then they will be OK with a government shut down and not care what happens. But this shut down is oh so so bad. Do government Union workers really think we are that stupid to see through this and all their lies? What do you say public Union people.. do you understand why we do not support you. This shut down bad; but when you shut it down that is good. See why we hate government unions employees so much and want to get rid of them? PS I support all private union workers 100%!

    1. Dustie says:

      You are a jerk. Government union workers are dedicated workers and often work for much less money than those in the private sector. I know – I’ve been there – did that for 20 hard years. I support all public and private union workers. Get a grip.

      1. oh dear says:

        You are ill informed on the stark reality of a revenue starved state government,and the only solution you tout is to eat the rich. Minnesota taxes are already high enough to stifle economic growth, which is the real long term solution to the budget deficit. Entitlement programs are not a God given right, yet like a typical liberal you look to the government to provide anything you can’t get for yourself. That gravy train is derailed, so rather than face reality you look for someone else to pay the tab. It’s not going to happen. We are in a long term recession and Minnesota’s days as a welfare state are numbered. Severe cuts are going to be made and it is going to be painful for everyone. Your petulant whining and insults won’t change that reality..The Republicans are doing what has to be done, and the governor doesn’t have the political courage to do the right thing.You Dustie, are the real jerk. Grow up, get a life, and get a grip.

        1. Citizen says:

          The GOP have planned the starvation of government using Grover Norquist’s philosophy. That said, the problem for the states and federal government is one of not enough tax revenue. We are presently experiencing the lowest tax rates EVER in this country, and the GOP wants to lower them even further. Oh, dear, you need to remember that when income tax rates were highest on the wealthy during the 1950s and into the 1970s, the country had prosperity and there was a great expansion of the middle class–who, by the way, pays the taxes for EVERYONE. Now that the middle class has seen over 30 years of wage stagnation and job cuts, they cannot any longer foot the tax bill for the wealthy. Governor Dayton understands history and understands that we need to create more revenue and the middle class can’t do it anymore and we certainly can’t do it on the backs of the elderly, poor, disabled, and disenfranchised. Since the wealthy have disproportionately benefited from HUGE tax cuts the last 30+ years, their bill is coming due–time to get back to tax levels of the Eisenhower era.

          1. And the winner is says:

            Wait for it….Wait for it…..Disenfranchised. I was waiting for someone to use the magic word. You win!!!!!

            1. Experienced Soldier says:

              Agreed. We need a four-party or five-party system in the USA since we have Dems, GOP and Tea Party.

    2. CHESTER says:

      so common man your saying that this possible shutdown is our fault not the legislatures as a state of Minnesota worker and a union worker I’m insulted by your STUPIDITY we have NOTHING to do with the possible shutdown except for feeling the brunt of everyones blame

    3. suffering taxpayer says:

      Very true. The unions think that it is a good thing when they go on strike. They want to kill the goose. That is one hell of a job. the man gets paid $47,000.00 a year to train people to sign up others for public welfare. Such a life. The working people depend upon the savings of the richer people to provide jobs, loans for homes, cars etc. When the governments take the money at the point of a gun or threat of imprisonment, they provide no lasting benefit for anyone. The poor will always reproduce and demand more and better benefits.

  14. Joseph Rodela says:

    I’ve come to believe lately that the conservative legislators have been so adamant about the need for less government that their tactic of budget warfare has served it’s purpose. To coerce the government into being smaller, and at the same time making the newly elected Governor into a villain.

    1. Pennagirl says:

      And the Governor with personal worth of how much, plays the class warfare against those of the same ilk as himself. He is the villain, just like the DFL cast Pawlenty in that same class six years ago in the last eight day government shutdown.

  15. joe says:

    Gov Dayton, sign the budget legislation.

    Republicans, Don’t give in to Dayton.

    1. CHESTER says:

      Gov.Dayton don’t give in to the commie rebublicans

  16. Bob says:

    Dayton hijaked the election by spending millions of grandpa’s dollars and bussing in thousands of college students from out of state to vote for him. All of his life he has been nothing but a rich, spoiled brat who could buy his way in and out of anything with money. He never earned an honest dollar in his life. He wants to curry favor with his liberal friends by shutting the government down. The problem is that his soak the rich scheme will hurt the MN budget in the long run. It will retard investment in MN jobs, more jobs will be lost to neighboring states. AND more weathy people will pack up and move to FL SD etc. where there is no state income tax.

    I feel sorry for all the people who are going to get their lives messed up by the govt shutdown. But the world will not end. Essential services will remain in place. Old people will not be thrown into the Mississippi. Fire and police protection will remain. I can only hope the republicans do not cave.

    1. CHESTER says:

      bob you and Idiot we need proof that Dayton bussed all these people in to vote for him essential services will STOP! As for people moving to Fl and SD would you please they need more idiots !

  17. David- Planning Honeymoons says:

    I feel terrible for this couple. Sometimes we never think about alternatives to things we want the most. I hope they are able to have the wedding of their dreams because I believe everyone deserves that. Best Wishes and God Bless.

  18. Jake says:

    Oh, the HORROR!!! Do you mean that people can’t go to Vegas to get married either? Or Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, or any other state to get married if you are gay?

  19. Gianni says:

    Gov.Dayton, resign and give us all some relief.

    1. Dustie says:

      Governor Dayton, you are being reasonable. Hang in there and don’t let the ill-informed, name callers bother you in the slightest. You were duly elected by the citizens of Minnesota and are on the right track. Those that do the name calling are just not nice people – Minnesotans are better than than. People need to go to YouTube and watch the video “The Truth About the Economy.”

  20. suffering taxpayer says:

    The battle is not between the Democrats and the Republicans. The fight is between the public employee’s unions and the private sector taxpayers. The best interests of the public employee, their unions and the welfare people are best served by the Democratic Party. The best interests of the private sector taxpaying employees are not in the best interests of the unions.

  21. says:

    All of your Posts were pretty passionate. Fun read. Knowledgeble information. I found your Blog a work of love. Keep up the good work. You hit it out of the Ballpark.

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