The Free Press, Mankato, MN

News Ticker

State budget: a closer look

July 1, 2011

Among the services on hold in shutdown: Lottery, work licenses, fishing licenses

MANKATO — Here are a few things that won’t be happening today.

At 1630 Riverfront Drive, people won’t be streaming into the Bobber Shop as they  did Thursday, forking over $18 to get a Minnesota fishing license.

At the intersection of Lor Ray and James, the regulars won’t be getting their daily fix of lottery tickets.

At an office in St. Paul, no one will be reviewing the paperwork of a young hair stylist who passed her exams and graduated from Mankato’s Cosmetology Training Center on Thursday.

And here’s one thing likely to be happening today:

People will be expressing frustration about the elected officials behind Minnesota’s state government shutdown.

“It’s so stupid, really, that they can’t compromise on something,” said Scott Schumacher, a Janesville resident buying a fishing license in anticipation of a late-July trip up north.

Jerry Miller, owner of Best Point Resort on Lake Tetonka in Waterville, was even more frustrated by the lack of action at the state Capitol.

“The only thing you can do is get rid of that gang up there, get a new bunch and start over,” Miller said.

A blow to tourism

About half of Miller’s customers

come from Iowa each season. Next weekend and through the rest of the summer, many of his customers will be coming from south of the border. And they won’t be pleased if they can’t buy a fishing license.

“They come to fish,” he said. “We’re a fishing resort.”

If “that gang up there” — Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature — don’t quickly settle their months-long impasse over a two-year budget, Miller will call his Iowa customers, let them know that fishing won’t be an option, and allow them to cancel their reservations.

A steady stream

Bobber Shop clerk Kevin Tapper said Thursday was comparable to the day before the fishing opener when it came to license sales.

“Between 3 and 4, I had a line in here,” Tapper said.

It was mostly casual fishermen who normally wait until just before hitting the water to get a license, he said.

As for tourists from other states, they’re going to be disappointed if they arrive in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and can’t get a license.

“If it’s shut down, they’re out of luck,” Tapper said. “That’s really unfortunate. And it’s the state that’s missing out on the money.”

No license, no work

Also out of luck are recent graduates of schools teaching hair-styling, nursing and other occupations that require a state licens.

“We had five just graduate,” said Lori Daschner of the Cosmetology Training Center on Madison Avenue. “And the one who graduated today (Thursday), they told her not even to send the stuff up for the license because nobody’s going to be there tomorrow.”

For the young graduate — who completed the courses, aced the tests and was anticipating employment and the paychecks that would come with it — there are no options but to wait.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Daschner said. “It’s quite scary, too.”

All bets are off

One risky option for generating some disposable income will be more difficult today. Canterbury Park is closed and lottery tickets can’t be sold.

“I ain’t buying one of them,” a customer at the Lor Ray Deli Mart said Thursday, pointing at the multitude of lottery games. “You can’t cash it in if you win.”

Weston Garvin, working the till at the convenience store, said he and his co-workers have been warning customers all week that the end is near for the lottery — both for sales and for redeeming winning tickets. For some, the lack of the daily scratch-off ritual might make them a little antsy.

“Some of them will come in and play for 20 minutes,” he said. “It’s like a bar atmosphere.”

Which happens to be what gambling aficionados might be surrounded by until the shut-down ends. Pull-tab sales, which will continue at bars, are pretty much it for local state-sanctioned gambling.

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State budget: a closer look