June 30, 2011

Minn. Judge Says Most Nonprofits Wouldn't Get Aid in Shutdown

A Minnesota judge's ruling on what key state programs would continue if a budget impasse forces the government to shut down omits most nonprofit contractors, leaving groups facing a sudden loss of income, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled on Wednesday that “only the most critical functions of government involving the security, benefit, and protection of the people" would be financed if the governor and legislators fail to reach a deal on closing a $5-billion deficit by Friday, when Minnesota's next two-year budget cycle begins.

While many charities do important work and provide jobs, Judge Gearin said, ordering the state to continue paying them through a shutdown would be “over-extending [the court's] authority.”

Jon Pratt, director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, called the decision “very unfortunate” but said many organizations will endeavor to seek aid from a court-appointed special master who will oversee state spending issues during the shutdown.

Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat who campaigned on a pledge to raise taxes for the wealthy, has been unable to strike a deficit-cutting deal with Republicans lawmakers, who control both houses of Minnesota's legislature and oppose any new revenue sources.

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