Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nonprofits Gain Reprieve From Minnesota Debt Crisis

If you've been following the news lately, you might have heard about the Minnesota government shutdown.  It all started when Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, attempted to close a $5-billion deficit by increasing taxes on residents making $1 million or more, as well as instituting some budget cuts.  The Republican controlled state senate, however, wanted only spending cuts.  Since no deal was made by midnight on June 30th, all non-essential government services were halted. 

This created a scare for some nonprofits in the state, such as BLIND Inc, who feared that that shutdown would severely handicap them and the people that rely on their services.  However, a district court eventually ruled that BLIND Inc and several other Minnesota nonprofits count as essential services, allowing them to operate as normally.  Here is an excerpt from the just released story from The NonProfit Times:

On the first day of rulings, Gearin ruled that the services provided by BLIND Inc. and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services were essential. She also included the state’s licensing agencies so licenses can be renewed, but she did not include the agency that issues nurse registration.

The ruling came as good news to Shawn Mayo, executive director of BLIND Inc. in Minneapolis, which offers training to the blind. She said her organization was able to continue without cutbacks in services because it could draw from general funds. It has 15 full-time staff and three summer temporary staff. It will be adding five more summer temps next week. The organization serves 40 to 45 people and will begin its children’s program the second week of July.

Mayo said the staff was discussing options even before the shutdown and was willing to take whatever steps necessary to keep running.

“We were quite concerned about how long we could continue to provide services and about further sustainability,” Mayo said. She added that even though her organization can operate, it is a referral agency, so she is concerned that counselors to whom clients would have been referred and who are out of work may face serious backlogs when they do return to work.

“Our students are thrilled (about the ruling),” Mayo said. “They didn’t have anywhere else to go. And they’re what it’s really about.”

You can read the full story at The NonProfit Times website.

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