Thursday, July 14, 2011

Government Shutdown Puts Minnesota on Last Kegs

In November, Minnesota voters sent Democrat Mark Dayton to the governor's mansion but control of both houses of the state legislature to Republicans. Mirroring the national political scene, state Republicans forced a government shutdown when they refused to pass a balanced budget that raised any revenues. Tim Pawlenty left the state with a $4 billion deficit, a budget hole that incoming Republican legislators and the new governor must paper over in order to set next year's budget. When the new financial year hit, the funding for government services ran out, as Republicans staunchly opposed any revenue raising measures.

While temporary cuts in government services were expected only to gut services to the poor (such as state-administered food stamps, Medicaid, job training, and of course, state jobs), even middle class and wealthy Minnesotans are finding themselves deprived of government services. Bars in Minnesota are required to purchase not only a liquor license to serve alcohol, but also a nominal $20 license to buy beer. Dozens of bars rushed to renew their annual purchasers' licence, but were not able to get their card renewed before the government shutdown. Republican intransigence on taxes has actually jeopardized the legal beer supply in bars across Minnesota.

Minnesota also requires beer suppliers to register their brands with the state, which means that MillerCoors, the (only?) American beer megaconglomerate will be unable to sell the Miller Lite, Coors, MGD or 32 other brands in Minnesota. The partnership between Coors and Miller accounts for roughly 38% of market share.

Shutting down business interests and alienating six-pack drinkers. It's essentially a political suicide note from Minnesota Republicans.

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