Like most Minnesotans, they just want the budget impasse and government shutdown settled.
But in a tour of Minnesota cities this week, Tarryl Clark, a former legislator who ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Michele Bachmann in 2010, is trying to remind people that the lawmakers who pledged to create jobs are preventing people from working because of their inability to resolve the impasse.
“Everybody ran on jobs last year,” Clark said.
And now, as the work to hash out an agreement, Clark and a passel of local folks concerned about jobs held a news conference to remind those governing our state to include jobs programs and initiatives in their budget talks. Clark is the national co-chair of Jobs21!, a grass-roots campaign coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance.
The current budget approved by the Legislature, Clark says, includes cuts to programs that affect jobs, including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, higher education and the trade office.
Clark says it’s not too late for them to make adjustments to the budget to include more funding for jobs. And she brought a collection of friends who had stories to tell about how the shutdown is hurting the state of jobs in Minnesota.
John Woodwick of the Minnesota Valley Action Council said they work with the Minnesota Workforce Center — which is closed because of the shutdown and was the site of Wednesday’s news conference — but can’t send people there to find work because it’s closed.
“We’re telling people to go to the public library (to search for jobs),” Woodwick said.
Al Forsberg, Blue Earth County’s public works director, said seven of the county’s eight major projects in progress are on still going, but one visible one is in danger of not getting done: repair of the Red Jacket Trestle.
Forsberg said he was just informed this week that the Department of Natural Resources, because it is closed, can’t issue a necessary permit for the county to work in the waterway the trestle crosses. The county was going to begin taking bids for some of the work, but if the DNR doesn’t issue that permit, they can’t continue the project.
“The shutdown is having quite an effect on us,” Forsberg said.
Bill Aufderheide, a sales representative at Hancock Concrete Products, said the shutdown is having unforeseen effects. Workers come to communities and spend money, he said. They also rely on state projects for their incomes. And when they’re not working, they’re not spending, which has an impact on the state’s economy.
Aufderheide urged lawmakers and Gov. Dayton to settle the impasse, “so we can go back to work.”
Leigh Pomeroy, president of Mankato Area Environmentalists, said the state’s budget should include jobs that look to the future. Jobs in wind and solar energy and biomass will help the state be at the forefront of where energy is moving and, hence, energy-related jobs.
“By doing that, we’ll put Minnesotans to work,” Pomeroy said.