State agencies are sending out notices to contractors, vendors and grantees telling them that the state may not be making any payments if state government shuts down on July 1.
“As you may know, the Minnesota State Legislature adjourned on May 23, 2011, without appropriating money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2011,” Department of Employment and Economid Development Commissioner Mark Phillips wrote in a letter.
The Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services made similar statements in letters to contractors.
The claim isn’t exactly true. The GOP-controlled Legislature passed a complete budget, but Gov. Dayton vetoed all but one of the budget bills.
“We don’t deny our budget reduced government spending,” House GOP spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said. “We take issue with the level of blame being placed on the Legislature when the GOP budget kept government open, operating and providing paychecks to state employees at their current salaries for two years.”
Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, issued a statement criticizing the letters.
“DEED’s lie is shameful,” Thompson said. “The Minnesota State Legislature adjourned on May 23, 2011, having passed the largest general fund budget in state history, which appropriated money to fund the operations of state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011. It is inconceivable that the Department of Employment and Economic Development, under Gov. Dayton’s direction, did not know this fact. Therefore I must assume this is a deliberate attempt by DEED to spread misinformation about the work product of the Minnesota legislature. DEED Commissioner Mark Philips should issue a new, corrected letter to contractors, vendors and grantees reflecting that truth.”
Officials within Dayton’s Administration stand by the claim. They say the Legislature has not passed a bill into law so no appropriations can be spent (beyond the agriculture budget bill). When asked about the GOP claims, Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci pointed to Dayton’s statement at last Wednesday’s news conference:
“Their responsibility was to pass a budget that I would sign,” Dayton told reporters on Wednesday. “A balanced budget that was a compromise between their ideals and what they believe their mandate to be and my ideals and what I know my mandate to be. And I’m willing to meet in the middle and they’re just standing there saying, ‘We’ll just pass our budget, our way and then we’re going home.’ “
Tinucci said Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are planning to meet privately tomorrow to discuss the budget impasse.
Update: Dayton spokesman Bob Hume is also distributing a Department of Employee Relations letter from 2005 that used the exact same wording. The governor at that time was Republican Tim Pawlenty. Update: The House and Senate didn’t send a complete budget to Pawlenty in 2005.