As state shutdown begins, so do the pleas for assistance

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 1, 2011 - 5:51 PM

Near Minnesota's shuttered Capitol, a special judge is hearing pleas from people and groups who are arguing their programs should keep going amid the indefinite government shutdown. Representatives from groups serving battered women and the Minnesota Zoo have already appeared.

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The first of dozens of social service providers began making their case Friday for continued state funding as a government shutdown in Minnesota entered its first day.

Appearing before Kathleen Blatz, a retired state Supreme Court judge appointed as a special master, the petitioners ranged from battered womens shelters and chemical treatment centers to the Minnesota AIDS Project.
“I've had a mental illness since 1982,” said Julie Tate of Minneapolis, who sat before Blatz in a wheel chair and lobbied for state funding for Vail Place, a community-based mental health program serving 1,700 adults in Hennepin County. “[I] feel suicidal most of the time.”
Blatz indicated she could start issuing her recommendations for state funding as early as Saturday. But she listened as state Attorney General Lori Swanson and lawyers for Gov. Mark Dayton clashed over how much authority Blatz had been given by a judge to expand a list of critical core services that must be provided by the state during a government shutdown.
Swanson said she expected the list of petitioners would be substantially larger than the roughly 50 that came forward during the state’s 2005 government shutdown. “It’s unprecedented. Minnesota’s never had a full shutdown,” she said.
“I think this is extraordinary times,” added Blatz.
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