DNR dusts off shutdown plan

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr says he’s begun looking at a six-year-old plan for shutting down non-essential government services in case it’s needed.

State lawmakers are trying to meet a May 23 deadline for solving a projected $5 billion budget deficit. If the impasse continues through the end of the fiscal year on June 30, then non-essential government functions begin shutting down. Landwehr told reporters today that his staff has already dusted off a shutdown plan written in 2005 that would include the closure of state parks.

“July 1st is two months away,” Landwehr said. “We’re starting to think about what we might have to do in that case. But we won’t get serious until we get close to the end of the session and see whether or not there’s some likelihood there will be some success.”

Landwehr said it was his idea to look at the plan.

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, the chair of the House environment and natural resources committee, said he’s still working hard to reach a timely budget agreement and avoid a shutdown.

“We don’t want that to take place,” McNamara said. “We want to get done, not have government shutdown. We want the state parks open and no worry as we had in ’05 wondering are they going to be open or not. We want to get done on time.”

The budget bill that McNamara is currently working on includes a provision to keep state parks open during future government shutdowns.

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