Protests Erupt in Minnesota over Govt Shutdown

Furious at a budget deadlock that has brought the state government to a standstill for a record two weeks and forced thousands of layoffs, Minnesotans took the streets yesterday, occupying a downtown Duluth intersection and garnering cheers and honks from sympathetic drivers. Earlier this week, Republican lawmakers heard from Minnesotans at a St. Cloud high school special education discussion that Gov. Mark Dayton also attended.

"Where is your conscience," Anthony Akubue, a St. Cloud State University environmental and technological studies professor, told the lawmakers.

"It's not about you, it is about us who sent you there," said Akubue, who said empty speeches or rhetoric did not sit well with him. "It's not about you. We sent you there."

Gov. Dayton has proposed an increase in taxes for the state's millionaires to help cover the state budget deficit, but Republicans, who control both houses of Minnesota's state legislature, refuse to consider any proposals that raises taxes in any way, even if they only affect the wealthiest of the wealthiest. Dayton has also continued to make proposals in the last week to bring Republicans to the table, which they all refused. In something of a preview of what could happen if the federal government shuts down in August, the ongoing Minnesota shutdown has forced the state to cut back all but the most essential services, lay off 22,000 state workers, and halt construction projects, all of which will cause an economic drag on the state economy as long as it remains shuttered. The shutdown also affects thousands of non-profits statewide, many of whom have to cut jobs as a portion of their funding decreases. State parks, zoos, and historical sites are all shut, too. And even bars, groceries, and convenience stores are affected, because state licensing offices are shut, keeping brands like Miller and Coors from renewing their distribution license and forcing them to pull their beer from the shelves and from bars.

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