Minnesota Gov't shut down: why lottery?

So everything but essential services are closed in Minnesota because of a budget crisis. The state lotteries are closed, and yeah they aren’t essential services and I have no data on hand to support my theory but I’m guessing that’s one of the few areas where the Government actually makes money. Since that’s really the problem here I’m left wondering WTF.

Why close the lottery?

If it’s anything like past federal government shutdowns, then the Minnesota lottery is shut down because there is no money available to pay the employees who run the lottery. That may seem paradoxical at first since the lottery is a revenue generator, but the money they pull in doesn’t just go directly into the paychecks of the lottery department workers.

Everything that isn’t deemed essential is shut down. It’s got nothing to do with money making ability. Even the state tax offices are at least partially shut down.

There are a few exceptions where the money to continue operations was already in place, like the MN Zoo.

And as you know, in governmental decisions, logic is not the primary criterion. Hence, a good deal of money “saved” by shutting down aspects of the government will be lost when the state begins to pay out unemployment compensation. These are elected officials proving another example of the adage, We get the government we deserve.

Yeah, why would the Government agree to do anything to ease it’s budget crisis.

Except, it’d do more to ease the budget crisis if they continued the nonessential things that actually bring in money.

The thing is, a government shutdown is not an attempt to ease the budget crisis. It’s a symptom of a failure to ease the budget crisis. The effect can definitely make budget problems worse in the long run.

In the case of the federal shutdown of 1995-1996 (and the federal near-shutdown this spring), the shutdown was not done for the purpose of saving money. It was done because there was no money available for paychecks/operating costs. By law, non-essential federal employees were not allowed to report for work if there was no money in the budget to pay them; the federal government is not allowed to obligate itself financially unless funds have been appropriated in advance. I suspect something similar is true for the budget deadlock currently taking place in Minnesota.

In the case of the '95-'96 federal shutdown, after it was all over, furloughed federal employees received complete backpay for the hours they normally would have worked (but actually didn’t work) during the shutdown. Basically full pay for a bunch of work that didn’t get done. Nobody ever expects a government shutdown to save anybody any money.

United States federal government shutdown of 1995 and 1996 (see also Anti-Deficiency act, which explains why a federal shutdown has to happen if a budget is not agreed upon)

2011 Minnesota state government shutdown

This is the main answer. The State’s money isn’t all in one pool. The money is divided into different accounts that are each allowed and required to pay for different things. It’s illegal to shift money in violation of the requirements of the funds. And you want it to be illegal, believe me.

If the account paying for staff workers is too low, then you can’t pay workers. You cut back until you can make payroll and if you’ve been told to prioritize by how essential the job is, that’s what you do.

The funds from the lottery are also earmarked, and most lotteries are set up so that the funds from them are never used on anything ongoing (like the salaries of permanent employees) or anything essential.

Recipients of lottery funds are supposed to think of them as windfall money. It is supposed to be used for upgrades, not necessities, no matter where it’s going. You want that, too. You don’t want anything essential depending on lottery money. So when non-essentials are cut, the lottery goes. It’s by definition non-essential.

Thanks Yllaria, that makes sense.

The racetrack at Canterbury Downs is also shut down. That is a private business, but is required to have state inspectors & veterinarians on site to supervise. But those people are paid from the profits of the track.

So the track is appealing the shutdown, claiming that it is their money paying those people, and the track is not in a financial crisis and they will definitely get paid, so the state has no right to shut down a private business when the business is paying for the services of these state employees.

So far, the Judge has not issued a ruling on this, and they remain shut down.