DeBlog: Is The Government Shutdown Painful Enough?

I’ve spent some time thinking about this — I wonder if the government shutdown is painful enough. Now let me be clear: to the 22,000 state employees who are now out of work — it doesn’t get much more painful. Many will be eligible for unemployment, so they’ll get (up to) 50 percent of their salary. But that’s pain.

I’m talking about the rest of us. Are we feeling enough pain — to really be putting the heat on the politicians to work out a deal?

We’ve got a government shutdown, but the state funded zoo is still open. The state is supposedly shut down, but I was able to easily renew my license plate tabs at the Hennepin County Service Center in Maple Grove today. (I know — the service center is staffed by the county, but they had to scan my state-issued driver’s license and update a state-run database).

The state government is shut down, but the governor’s mansion is ruled “essential.” The legislators and constitutional officers (governor, lt. governor, etc.) still draw a salary. And our employers are still collecting and paying state income tax withholding. Businesses are still collecting state sales taxes.

This weekend the shutdown didn’t negatively impact a single aspect of my life. Other than the concern I have for my friends who are out-of-work state employees, and my friends at People Serving People — a homeless shelter we did a story on last Friday.

I passed the closed Maple Grove rest stop off I-94 on my way to Big Lake this weekend and wondered: “Doesn’t everyone just use the bathroom in the SA or Subway?”

I’m not trying to be glib here, rather I’m making the case that this thing should be a real shutdown. There should be shared pain. How drastic? I’m not sure. Maybe the State Patrol shouldn’t respond to vehicle crashes without injuries? No one should be getting paid. I shouldn’t be able to renew my license tabs. The zoo certainly should be closed.

This should be so bad that everyone looks at it and says: This is crazy. And we’d all demand our “leaders” figure it out.

Do you think the shutdown is drastic enough? What’s open/funded that you think should be closed?

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Looking for Leaders

    I don’t think it is, I think more should be shutdown so more feel the pain. Start with roads and bridges.

  • Alex V

    The zoo is open because admission fees are enough to keep it going in the short term. I think the same should be true for state parks. It’s silly to shut things down that turn a profit. Everything else in the article makes sense though.

    • Tom

      I guess I don’t understand why the government is shut down at all. Aren’t they arguing over increases either way? If your boss and their boss both want to give you a raise but can’t decide on the percentage do they lay you off? We are still paying for everything to be run at last years levels. If they aren’t going to give the middle class what little services we are offered like state parks and rest area why have them if we can live without them?

  • Middle of the road

    Why is the zoo open? If the zoo is considered to be “profitable”, which of course goes against the definition of government services, then why is the lottery and racino shut down? For the amount of subsidy that mass transit gets, why is that still running? Is the Metropolitan counsel a state level entity or not? People woudl really complain if water quit flowing both into and out of their houses, let alone if they had to pay the full fair to get to and from their jobs, MOA, MSP airport, …

    • Tracie

      Just because taxes go up for the millionaires does not mean us middle and lower class will not feel it! Stores/businesses will raise prices to cover what they have to pay. So in the long run, we all will be paying the higher tax.

      • Jake

        Not only that, but the guv wants to raise sin taxes, which he could not do if he doesn’t get the ‘rich’ tax passed, because then people would really be screaming that the rich got a ‘pass’. He also wants to tax clothing, just so he can maintain our out of control WELFARE spending and paying for stupid, non-essential stuff like ethanol tax breaks and the ‘arts’. Believe me, the guv’s ‘raise the taxes’ pledge goes far beyond taxing the rich.

  • GT

    Just because it doesn’t affect you Jason, doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect others. Way to be objective reporter there.

    • littletingod

      Did you read the 1st paragraph?

  • Mark Listrud

    wasnt it announced that Governor Dayton would’nt receive his pay during shut down, unlike the others whom don’t really give a flying tute about Minnesotans, just there own agenda..?

  • K.

    I was affected. Last week I was on vacation driving up to the north shore. All was well until we headed home……….on July 1st and 2nd. It was painful to see many motorists parked along Hwy. 61 by the state parks and climbing over the baricades so that they could view things like Gooseberry Falls. Also, since the rest stops were closed, people had no choice but to stop at filling stations along the interstate. What you’d find there is filling stations crammed with cars and long waits at the restrooms inside. People were not happy. Many of these folks were from out of state and will not be having fond memories of their road trip thru Minnesota on the busiest holiday weekend of the year.

    • dan

      I thought you were joking when I read you comments. Really, people still use rest stops for potty breaks? There are plenty of gas stations to reeive yourself. I am sure the owners of the gas stations appreciate the extra business in selling more gas and snacks when people stop for a break. Support small businees not big govt!

    • Jake

      Waa, waa, waa. Suck it up and grow a pair.

  • Johnny Rain Cloud

    It’s costing MN $13 million a week by the government being shutdown. How does this help our budget deficit? Since the state legislators can’t figure out a budget deal for $5-6 million might as well ad on a few more million dollars to our debt. These politicians should have called a special session over the holiday weekend to get this done.

    • Looking for Leaders

      The republicans presented Dayton with on “lights on bill” that would have done that, but that included new bans on abortion, stem cell research and voter ID requirements. No way that was being signed!

  • Dennis from Elk River

    I want to know more about the story of a potential deal in the works late last week that fell apart when the Republicans insisted that portions of their social policies were insteted as a requirement.

    If that is true it is absolutely disgusting to say the least,

    Social agendas should have no impact what so ever on the balanced budget.

    If found to be true I hope everyone in support of this idea has the balls to step forward and state their support!

    • Looking for Leaders

      Maybe Jason DeRusha will do a “Good Question” segment.
      “Did republicans presented Dayton with on “lights on bill” which included new bans on abortion, stem cell research and voter ID requirements?”

    • kevin watterson

      Dennis –
      It is not true. Here is a link to offers exchanged on the final day before the shutdown: Unfortunately we have had to spend far too much time correcting the record on this inaccuracy. ALL policy issues, whether you want to call them “social” or otherwise, were dropped by June 30. This included such “divisive social issues” as property tax caps, mandate repeals on schools, tuition caps and EBT reforms.

    • today's the day

      @ Dennis. I read it Friday, front page of the Star Tribune. Stated that social pork was added by repubs last minute— killed the deal.

    • Leann Bosquez
  • Stateworker

    I support Gov. Dayton. Keep the State close. I will try to ENJOY my 1 -2-3-4 weeks OFF . FISHING – Golfing – RESTING. Let me Minnesota Speak and not the GOP people. It will hurt the GOP party this year. Gov. Don’t give in. MANY GOP’s friend are suffered from the shutdown, because their busiiness are paid by the State. GOP relatives / friends are base on the State momey too.

    KEEP it close and let the people speak to Koch and Zeller….

  • Whatever

    Ask the truck drivers if the rest stops being closed affected them….and what about those people that wanted to get their fishin license over the holiday weekend? Oh and not getting child support, that doesn’t suck at all………

    • Flint

      you don’t need a fishing license right now because there’s no one to check it!

      • Whatever

        RIght…..good method

    • Jeff

      Child support was deemed essential and the payments are still being collected, processed, and disbursed to the custodial parents. The public will see little, if any, affect in this area.

      • Whatever

        They are not taking all forms of payment. “However, no walk-in payments will be accepted during the shutdown”

        • Jeff

          That’s because those particular people that you would deliver payments to were deemed “not essential”. They are not working. There are very, very few people that deliver walk-in payments. < .5%

          • Whatever

            I was simply saying that it affects me. Can you handle that?

    • Les Johnson

      Child support is still coming out of checks and being sent to those who receive it. At least know what you’re talking about.

    • dan

      There is one in every crowd! Didnt you see the 400 commercials about getting your license early and exactly how many people look at the 4th as a big fishing weekend?

      • Whatever

        No TV for me. I was out fishing.

  • Ginny

    Of course the impact of the shutdown is minimal at this point – it occurred over a holiday weekend!

    The longer it goes on, more people will be affected around the state – guaranteed!

    A question like this should be asked 2 weeks into the shutdown – then every week after that. You’d see a definite change in how many people say it affects them!

    • Justin

      Think about all the people who were going to go camping this weekend at a state park and then couldn’t. Plenty of people have been affected already. Rest stops- plenty of people. Fishing licenses- I would think that they would have brought in a lot of money for the state on friday and saturday.

      I don’t know- but would like to know- is the DNR still in operation- patrolling lakes?

      • JB

        The DNR is deemed essential and is still on the job as are city, county and State Police. As for Dennis from Elk Rivers comment on Social agendas causing a deal to fall through. Social agendas are entirely what the budget is all about! The Republicans want to cut funding to many different social “programms” and not raise taxes aka CUT SPENDING and the Dems do not want to cut any funding to their pet social programs and raise Taxes to cver the budget. Its all black and wite and each side is doing what the people that elected them wanted them to do! Problem is someone is going to hav to give and upset their constituants thus having trouble being re-elected.

        • Not essential

          Just a clarification: the DNR has not been deemed essential and has shutdown. Just a select number of employees performing critical services (mostly conservation officers) are continuing to work while the remaining 2,500 of us have now joined the ranks of the unemployed.

  • Linda Jones

    I think the shutdown has affected people, but the amount of people? The impact must be felt statewide, to everyone–not just those in need. It’s easy to have couch discussions when you don’t feel the effect, but when you “need”, and I mean NEED services that are deemed “non essential”, then the GOP will stop and consider compromises. The Governor is willing to compromise, but not at the cost of Minnesota residents (the majority of us who make an honest wage for an honest day’s work). Stand, up, Minnesotans, and make your stand!

  • Andrew

    Well, if we don’t miss the services and they are shut down, doesn’t that mean they are not very needed in the first place? Greater MN feels the impact even less. They are weclome to shut down more and leave them that way.

    • Citizen

      @Andrew. It will take a while for the decrease in business income from tourism to be felt in Minnesota. Our parks are a huge attraction.

  • littletingod

    Can somebody tell me how many jobs the “millionaires” that Dayton wants to increase taxes for actually create? Can anybody explain to me how increasing these “millionaire’s” taxes will be poison? Is this a “Good Question”?

  • See BS

    Wealthy people don’t have to stay in Minnesota.
    There are many States where millionaires can live and pay less in taxes.

    • Southern Mn Mom

      Dear BS-

      if no one of wealth is left in Minnesota who do you think is going to pay the taxes to keep funding our endless welfare programs?

      There are many states that have employment opportunities for Minnesota’s poor and unemployed. States like North Dakota and Wyoming have good paying jobs waiting but:

      1>) You must pass frequent drug tests
      2.) You must show up for work each morning and put in long hours
      3.) You must actually work

      Southern MN Mom

      • South Centrail Mom

        Amen — I would LOVE to see this happen in MN

      • Looking for Leaders

        Yes, the great state of North Dakota that get 30% more Federal Aid per Capita

        google “education by state ranking” using first link

        also checkout what a great job was done on education, using the “Smartest State 2006-2007” link

        Hopefully we can continue to strive to be a lesser and lesser state

        • Umpire

          I think Southern MN Mom was talking about job opportunities for people who wanted to work, not education.

          I was shocked by your comments because I was always under the assumption North Dakota did a good job graduating their children form high school. I discovered they do! THEY RANK 7TH NATIONALLY, BUT HAVE FALLEN FROM SECOND IN 2001.
          Go to:


        • Jake

          Really? What about all the windfall profits from their oil production? How about little or a proposal to ELIMINATE the INCOME TAX there? They also don’t have to deal with all of the CRIME, ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, WELFARE, etc. Run down the Dakotas all you want, but for those who have enough backbone and brains to take care of themselves, I’d say that the Dakotas have a lot to offer.

          • Umpire

            Dear Jake-

            I am not running them down. I love the Dakota’s. I was defending them. Reread the blog from Looking For Leaders above my responses. Much of my family has moved from Minnesota to South Dakota.

            SD, ND AND WY ROCK!!!


      • Beer Guzzling Redneck

        Why must they “put in long hours?”

        Why is that relevant?

        • Umpire


          Are you playing with me?

          Workers in ND and WY put in long hours because they have to travel so far in the remote wilderness of the oil fields. They get paid very well if they can pass the urine test and show up and actually work each and every day.


    • Tax away....

      If they don’t want to pay their share (remember the most productive years in the US, top tax rates were above 60%, all the way to 94%), please let them leave. That way people who enjoy a state with higher standard of living can move in.

      google “Historical Top Tax Rate”

  • Nancy

    As a laid off State employee, I totally agree that more should be closed, including the Zoo. Why should others get to enjoy the Zoo when we don’t know what our future is, and whether we can even afford to go to the Zoo with our families? I support Gov. Dayton. More people need to be seriously impacted so they might actually care that their elected state officials no longer seem to want to serve the average Minnesotan, rather only those that help them to get elected by financing their campaigns. Why should state employees be the ultimate pawns and bear the brunt of the pain?

    • Les Johnson

      “Why should others get to enjoy the Zoo when we don’t know what our future is, and whether we can even afford to go to the Zoo with our families?”

      You don’t pay attention. The Zoo is not a government entity, and the zoo can survive for 3 months without any state money at all.

      What was it you were complaining about? People aren’t up in arms because of YOUR budget crisis?

      Well boo hoo for you, but your failed money supply isn’t my problem, and if I want to go to the zoo I still can.

      If you can’t afford the zoo, it probably isn’t on your list of things to do whether it’s open or closed, now is it?

      • Wayne

        Les, maybe YOU don’t pay attention… if the Zoo isn’t a government entity why are the employees all state employees? Where did the money come from to build it? Where did/does the money come from to run it during the times it hasn’t been profitable?

        I’m happy for you that you are so wealthy that if you were laid off tomorrow and had no idea when you would be back to work you wouldn’t have any financial concerns. Not all of us are that lucky and count on our pay checks.

        • Beer Guzzling Redneck

          I count on my paychecks too, buddy. I’m not wealthy enough that losing my job wouldn’t cause a concern for next week’s bills.

          But again, the zoo can survive on its own for at least 3 MONTHS without any state money. Did that part slip past your clever brain?

      • Jake

        The zoo lobbies the legislature EVERY session to beg for more and more money to pay for their, pardon the pun, PET PROJECTS, that cost massive amounts of money, so quit implying that they are a self-sustaining entity. If it were shut down to the public, they wouldn’t need as many people around to take care of it, that is for sure. It’s a luxury, not a necessity. If it’s ok to shut down the lottery (which brings in massive money year round), or the horse tracks, or the state parks, then the zoo never should have re-opened.

    • Johnny Rain Cloud

      You must have a sugar daddy because your comment reads as if you don’t care about being laid off. Therefore, your significant other makes plenty of money to keep you afloat if you are unemployed. Also, you support more things in the state to be shutdown is crazy! You want the zoo to shutdown because if you can’t enjoy it than no one should be able to. We are not in the 3rd grade anymore.

  • Stanford

    All the bleeding heart stories over tha last couple weeks have not accomplished what the media and the dems have hoped for. Not one article or news story on how the cuts will save us money and how the government is spending money like a drunken sailor. Even through all this the people are demanding less taxes and cuts in spending. The people have spoken. NO NEW TAXES

  • Going down

    I see a bunch of anarchists. “Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy.”

  • Vern

    How about the young couple that I know who are working at low paying jobs that scraped together enough money last winter for 4 or 5 nights at a state park. That is the one thing they had to look forward to this summer. Now the state has their money and will pay it back sometime later, probably less the nonrefundable reservation fee and they have nothing. Is that painful enough for you?

  • Scramp

    I agree with this article 100%. Of course I feel for those that are now unemployed. But if your going to shut down the state, then SHUT DOWN THE STATE. Don’t pick and choose what gets to stay open and what gets closed. If they had shut down the zoo entirely and an animal died; if they had shut down the prisons and an inmate died; if there was no emergency response teams in place and people died do you really think the government would have shut down then or stayed shut down for any length of time? They took away the convenience of using rest stops, of buying lottery tickets, of going to the racetrack, of using the state parks. Stuff we want, but don’t have to have. So to those not unemployed by this, it hasn’t hit too hard yet. It’s annoying and maddening.

    • Beer Guzzling Redneck

      “But if your going to shut down the state, then SHUT DOWN THE STATE. Don’t pick and choose what gets to stay open and what gets closed.”

      Unintelligent comment.

    • Justin

      AND to add to this- they shut down the ones(groups/businesses/organizations) that actually made money- and closed ones that use money(apparently essential) are still in operation.
      How does that work?
      seems backwards to me

    • Jake

      I agree with Scramp 100%. If you are going to shut it down, then SHUT IT DOWN. Instead, dayton, guerin, and blatz teamed up to please dfl voters, but aggravate those voters who use services which taxPAYERS (i.e. conservative voters) generally use. It’s but a minor inconvenience, I can assure you. We know what is at stake, and we are digging our heels in for the long haul.

  • Jeanne

    As a state employee who is laid off, I am begging WCCO to stop airing puff pieces about who is affected by the shutdown. I could care less if people cannot camp in a state park, cannot get married at the chapel at Ft Snelling, or cannot get money from the state for their adopted children. Please start focusing on the real issue: Governor Dayton. He is acting like an immature, spoiled child. I wonder why he is so obsessed with taxing the rich. How about just cutting government spending? How about selling beer on Sundays? How about taxing clothing? Dayton needs to compromise now and forget about his silly millionaire tax.

    • mena

      Dayton made a promise to us, and he needs to keep his promise. I’m sorry you are affected by this, but there are hundreds of thousands of people affected by the debt, the budget, and economy. It’s time the Rich stop getting tax breaks that only they qualify for. It’s time they start paying their fair share, I’m tired of being a laid off middle class person who cannot find work because the economy is in the toiled. I’m tired of watching countless Rich people get tax breaks while my room mate who only makes 8.00 per hour has to pay a large portion of her check to taxes. It’s the middle class people that are getting hit with taxes, while the rich get to enjoy all of the tax breaks. No, I think Gov Dayton is doing a good job…and he needs to stick to his guns…and deliver what he promised. Period. you are not the only person who has been laid off.

      • Beer Guzzling Redneck

        Your roommate makes $8 per hour because she has no education and no job skills WHATSOEVER. There is no other reason to work for those peanuts. That isn’t my fault, Dayton’s fault or the Republicans’ fault.

        I wouldn’t even get out of bed for 3 times that much because it wouldn’t be worth it.

        • Me

          You couldn’t be further from the truth…she makes 8.00 per hour because she cannot find friggin idiot..We both graduated from the u with a BA degree…before you say someone is uneducated, get your facts straight.

          • Mena

            At least she’s working…isn’t it funny…your told to take what you can get so you’re at least working..and if you don’t take what you can get, and cannot pay your bills, people fault you for that too…Good lord

          • Jake

            I’ll give her credit for working. However, if she has a BA degree, what’s the degree in, fingerpainting or basketweaving? Seriously, if you spend tons of money to get a college degree, go for a major that gives you some skills to give you a chance to be gainfully employed when you graduate. I have no formal degree, and have been earning over $50K a year for many years. Why? I demonstrated the ability and drive to learn on the job, do things that others couldn’t or wouldn’t do, stayed off of dope and out of jail, and showed up every day and performed better than most of my peers on a regular basis. That is what good employers want.

          • Beer Guzzling Redneck

            “Friggin idiot”? That is hilarious.

            Guess what, I don’t make $8/hour so who’s the real idiot now?

    • Justin

      You have got to be kidding me?

      put yourself in the shoes of someone who had high hopes and planned to go camping this last weekend or had planned to get married. Do you know how much time and money goes into and planning a wedding(not saying it had to be at ft. snelling)?

      you are highly ignorant

    • Jake

      Thank you Jeanne, for a sensible post.

  • Wayne Sporcic

    Well as a truck driver for over 15 years, maybe the trucking industry and owner operators should stop delivering to the state of Minnesota because they have all the rest areas closed, when we are out of hours what the H are we suppose to do, drivers depend on the rest ares to spend the night in their trucks to take their 10 hour break or to get out and wake up, refresh themselves if they have to, this is bull S. You just cannot pull these rigs over just old anywhere. Maybe we all should shut down or dont deliver their freight, let them come across the boarders to get heir freight. What in the world is going on. I do feel sorry for all the workers that got laid off dont get me wrong, but at least they can sleep in their beds at night with their families, we also have a job to do, but with the rest areas closed where are we suppose to sleep, nobody is thinking of the trucking industry out there, well it doesnt seem like it anyway. Open them back up, better yet open everything back up and quit looseing money.

  • M. Anderson

    who is feeling this? I’ll tell you. The hard working people that work for Minnesota. Who can live on less than 50% of their salary? Dayton is a wealthy man, of course he can forgo his salary. Let him try to make it on a real working class salary or better yet the 50%. He should have gone with the lights on recommendation.

  • One of the 22,000

    Being one of the 22,000 laid off State employees, I wonder the same thing, Jason. If no one feels an impact of a state shutdown, does the public think that the jobs deemed non-essentail can go away? I hope not! I’ve worked for the state for over 30 years, and would hate to think that all the work done over all these years are not valued by someone in the state!

  • UpNorth

    Though I don’t live in MN, I was born in Duluth. Twenty-one of us vacation Up North every summer. Though we and the resort will probably only be affected in minor ways, I truly feel for you all as people who value their lives and livelihoods. Let’s hope those in power remember that to persuade you need a balance between emotion to motivate, logic to create sustainable decisions, and an awareness of the ethical behavior still cherished by most in this nation. They should have returned from the observation of our nation’s birth with a drive to settle this with diligence, integrity, and compromise, which most of us expect of our representatives, based on their campaign promises.

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