Twenty days after it began, Minnesota's government shutdown has come to an end.
Governor Mark Dayton signed 12 bills on Wednesday morning, a move that put 22,000 laid-off state employees back to work on Thursday and ended the longest government shutdown in recent U.S. history.
Within three minutes, Dayton signed a 10-inch stack of bills that will eliminate the state's $5 billion budget deficit, the Star Tribune reported. His signature comes within five hours of the conclusion of a special session that began Tuesday afternoon and lasted until early Wednesday morning. At that session, legislators formalized an agreement that Dayton and Republican leaders reached last week.
"I'm not entirely happy with what I'm signing into law," Dayton reportedly said after the signing ceremony. "It's not what I wanted, but it's the best option available. . . . It gets Minnesota back to work."
Jim Schowalter, the state's budget commissioner, told NPR that it will take weeks for various Minnesota agencies to work through paperwork backlogs, clean up parks and other sites that were closed, and return to normal operations.
Dayton's aides told the Star Tribune that the reason state services won't resume immediately is that state law requires a day for newly-enacted laws to get appropriations necessary for various agencies and services to operate.
Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature were in a deadlock over a projected $5 billion state budget deficit for the two-year period that began July 1. On June 30-the last day of the previous two-year budget cycle-Democrats and Republicans were at an impasse over a $1.4 billion budget gap for the biennium that began on July 1, and the Legislature adjourned last month before a budget deal was reached.
The Star Tribune outlined the specifics of the new set of budget bills that were just signed. To see a summary of how much will be spent, on what, and what's new, click here.
Many companies and industries have been affected by the shutdown. Canterbury Park lost more than $2 million, and Minnesota's trucking industry and real estate industry have both felt the impact.