Minnesota’s government shut down Friday (July 1) for the first time in state history after lawmakers failed to pass a temporary spending plan and left 9,000 employees jobless and highway rest stops unattended for the July Fourth weekend, according to an Associated Press report.
The state legislature, however, was able to reach a funding agreement Thursday, signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, which will keep state parks open for the public, according to officials from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“We are delighted to be able to report that all state park and state forest campgrounds, buildings and services will remain open and programs scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend will go on as planned,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR Division of Parks and Recreation.
Nelson added that because of the uncertainty regarding state park funding, several hundred reservations were canceled. As a result of these cancellations, Nelson reports that state parks, normally booked to capacity, still have some first-come, first-served sites available.
The shutdown came at midnight after lawmakers failed late Thursday to pass a temporary spending plan to keep the government up and running. The Senate adjourned 20 minutes after Gov. Pawlenty said he hoped the two sides could agree on a stopgap measure to keep the state’s doors open for 10 more days.
Many states often miss their deadline for enacting new budgets. But Minnesota, unlike other states, has no law that automatically extends spending past the end of its fiscal year if a new budget is not approved. The last state government shutdown was in Tennessee in 2002.