The Zoo receives only about 29% of its funding from the state of Minnesota and had appealed a court order that it must shut down because it is not part of the core services of state government. All but core state services shutdown on Friday since the Republican led legislature and Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) had not reached agreement on a budget.
Judge Gearin said the money the Zoo gets from concessions, parking and admission receipts is a “standing appropriation that does not require specific biennial legislative action” and has already been “lawfully appropriated”. Judge Gearin ordered the State’s Budget Commissioner to make payments from those accounts even though they will be used to support “non-core” functions at the Zoo.
Previously Judge Gearin had ruled the only money that could be spent was for keeping the animals safe and the zoo secure.
The Zoo is closed today, but is open for a Monkees’ concert tonight.
It is possible the zoo could be open as early as Sunday. A spokesperson for the Zoo says the gates will be open for the public starting 9 AM Sunday morning. The 4th of July weekend is one of the zoo’s largest money making weekends.
In a separate case, Judge Gearin ruled against Canterbury Park’s request to continue horse racing and Minnesota Harness Racing request to continue operations during the government shutdown. Gearin denied the request saying that the Racing Commission is required to make a biennial request for funding to the legislature. She said the difference between these cases and the Zoo’s case is the zoo appropriations do not require legislative approval.
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