July 2, 2011

Vulnerable feel the pinch of Minn. gov't shutdown

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers headed home for a long holiday weekend, bracing for likely public anger as some of them meet constituents for the first time since a failure to reach a budget agreement forced a government shutdown.

The reception they get starting Saturday, and during 4th of July parades around the state, could go a long way toward determining how long the shutdown lasts. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP leaders had no plans for new talks before Tuesday, five full days after the shutdown started.

Minnesota's second shutdown in six years was striking much deeper than a partial 2005 shutdown. It took state parks and rest stops off line, closed horse tracks and made it impossible to get a fishing license. But it also was hitting the state's most vulnerable, ending reading services for the blind, silencing a help line for the elderly and stopping child care subsidies for the poor.

The shutdown was rippling into the lives of people like Sonya Mills, a 39-year-old mother of eight facing the loss of about $3,600 a month in state child care subsidies. Until the government closure, Mills had been focused on recovering from a May 22 tornado that displaced her from a rented home in Minneapolis. Now she's adding a new problem to her list. More

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