Minnesotans Fed Up With State Government
GUY RAZ, host: So, it's day two of Minnesota's government shutdown. The Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled legislature haven't been able to agree on a budget. Dayton wants to raise taxes on the state's highest earners to try and close a $5 billion deficit. But Republicans say that's a nonstarter.
Meanwhile, state parks and offices are shut, thousands of state employees are out on furlough. And as NPR's Sonari Glinton found out, most Minnesotans simply want it to end.
SONARI GLINTON: I'm here on the grounds of Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul. It's hard to tell if things are really slow because of the shutdown or because it's a holiday. But you can tell things are different.
What are you doing here?
CHRIS LAPAKKO: Camping out.
GLINTON: Chris Lapakko is one of the 22,000 furloughed Minnesota state workers. He's putting up a tent on the grounds of the capitol, just like he's been doing for the last few days.
LAPAKKO: And they told yesterday I can't have stakes in the ground, so I had to, like, tie stuff to the pole here and be tricky with it.
GLINTON: Lapakko has brought his dog Milly and posted signs as a sort of protest to the shutdown.
LAPAKKO: Instead of these people acting like adults and getting their business done like I have to at my job, they want to make each other look bad and now we got a state shutdown. So I'm collecting unemployment. So I figured I'd camp out here. It's kind of a low-cost vacation. A staycation.
GLINTON: Tensions are running high between Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature controlled by Republicans. They said there'd be no negotiations until after the Fourth of July holiday. So nonessential government services are closed - parks and rest stops. No camping or fishing licenses.
Joe Dina and his brother Mike have already been affected by the shutdown.
JOE DINA: My brother got laid off from his job, so he has a little time on his hands. So I came here to visit and cheer him up a little bit and maybe do a little fishing. But I can't go fishing, because I can't get a license. So - but if I do go, they'll still write me a ticket. So, it's kind of a little hypocritical.
GLINTON: So instead of going to the Cloquet River to fish for bass, Mike and Joe Dina came to the capitol to see the government not at work.
MIKE DINA: I think we are going to risk it tomorrow, though.
DINA: So, we won't be in Cloquet.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
DINA: We're going to be in Lake Superior.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
GLINTON: The government shutdown is a minor inconvenience for some Minnesotans, especially on the holiday. Law enforcement is still being paid. Prisons are open, welfare checks and food stamps are going out. Still, many here at the capitol, like Daniel Belish, say they're embarrassed and angry.
DANIEL BELISH: It bothers me that they've had six months - basically, six months of knowing that the governor and the legislature are at odds. And so, it's six months that they've had to work this out and they haven't. And so then, the reality is that we are the people who are stuck with their irresponsibility.
SANDRA SELLARS: I got a bad taste in my mouth about Minnesota right now.
GLINTON: Sandra Sellars was at a bus stop in downtown St. Paul. She talks about her home state as if it were a dear old friend who's gone wrong.
SELLARS: I want her to - she can do so much more. She doesn't have to use these tactics to address an issue. That ain't the way politics was explained to me when I was in school.
GLINTON: Sellars says even one day of a government shutdown is too long.
Sonari Glinton, NPR News, St. Paul.
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