|Sen. Sheran announces anti-shutdown bill|
This morning Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, announced the introduction of the anti-shutdown bill, which aims to avert future state government shutdowns by improving processes to encourage conflict resolution and fair negotiations at the Capitol.
“Nobody wins in a government shutdown,” said Sen. Sheran. “I think lawmakers know that, especially after last summer’s standoff. But when a shutdown is looming, party leaders always seem to dig in their heels and stop working together. The anti-shutdown bill would put into law a blueprint for fair, bipartisan negotiations.”
To begin with, the anti-shutdown bill would promote bipartisan problem solving long before a shutdown is even on the horizon. The first condition of Sen. Sheran’s anti-shutdown legislation would protect the minority party from being excluded when conference committees are debating major budget bills. Currently, there is no guarantee that any minority members will be included in these conference committee negotiations.
However, in the event that the legislature adjourns without coming to an agreement with the Governor on a budget, the anti-shutdown bill provides that the Governor and two members from each party in each body must engage in mediation to resolve differences and avoid a shutdown.
“Regardless of who is governor or which party controls the legislature, it is the legislature’s responsibility to balance the state’s budget in a manner that gets a governor’s signature,” said Sen. Sheran. “This bill addresses factors that enhance conflict resolution before a shutdown.”
Finally, if a shutdown cannot be averted, Sen. Sheran’s anti-shutdown bill would suspend legislators’ salaries during a shutdown. “It’s not a happy prospect, but I think it’s common sense,” added Sheran. “Our salaries come from taxpayers. Why should we collect our salaries while thousands of state employees are out of work because we couldn’t reach a budget agreement?”
“Ultimately, the anti-shutdown bill is a pro-consensus bill. In today’s political climate it is getting more and more difficult for elected officials to reach across party lines and talk about compromise. I can’t force politicians to get along, but forcing them to sit down and work together from the start will result in a better product and prevent gridlock to keep Minnesota up and running.