Thousands of State of Minnesota employees are being told to prepare for the possibility of mass layoffs should a government shutdown become a reality.
The Minnesota Legislature wrapped up this year's legislative session without passing a two-year budget. And while Gov. Tim Walz and leading lawmakers said they'd agreed to spending targets, all the hard policy work – meaning, what will actually be in the budget bills – still needs to be done.
The plan was for working groups to continue negotiating through June 4, with a special session starting June 14. That would give lawmakers time to pass the two-year budget before the June 30 deadline. If that doesn't happen, a government shutdown would begin July 1.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, state employees – of which there are about 40,000, making the state the second-largest employer in Minnesota – received letters outlining what to expect should a shutdown occur.
Senate Republicans have argued it's "perfectly reasonable" to ask the state government to "tighten its belt" by requiring each state agency to find 5% savings, suggesting many Minnesota families have had to do the same of late.
Walz, in a letter to employees who received the layoff notice, said he is "hopeful that this process is just a formality" on the way to a budget agreement in the month ahead.
There have been two shutdowns in the past two decades - a partial shutdown in 2005 and 2011. But these overtime legislative sessions to bridge budget gaps are becoming commonplace. A special session has been needed to finalize and pass budget bills in four out of the past five budget years.