It is unfortunate that this week, the DFL chose to put politics above good policy, burying the 5% Campaign and several other important provisions in a 500 page supplemental budget bill that will cost Minnesotans hundreds of millions of dollars this year and even more down the road.
The 5% Campaign makes cost of living adjustments for home and community based workers who care for vulnerable adults. The initiative has strong bipartisan support because those who care for our state’s most vulnerable residents have been shortchanged on funding increases for years. Republicans tried several times to bring this issue to a vote as a standalone bill, but instead the Democrats want to bury it in this massive supplemental bill passed on Thursday.
By doing so, they can make Republicans take a NO vote on this and several other important provisions to use in campaigns against us come November.
Other positive elements buried in this legislation include funding for pothole and infrastructure repair, increasing penalties for sex offenders, adding $58 to the K12 funding formula and preventing animal cruelty by monitoring commercial dog and cat breeders.
However, the bad in this bill far outweighs the good.
Hiding behind children, puppies and potholes is a massive bailout for Obamacare that will cost this state hundreds of millions of dollars in future bienniums. Greatly underestimating the federal funds coming in to cover the expansion of Medicaid and MinnesotaCare left our state in the hole.
This bill bails out Obamacare by spending $406 million from the General Fund in 2016 and even more after that, and that still doesn’t cover all the costs of adding so many to public health insurance programs. And what’s more, this bill moves MinnesotaCare to the General Fund starting in 2018 meaning there will be no incentive to limit public healthcare access or rein in spending.
Of course, the Obamacare bailout is not the only spending problem with this legislation. Using current surplus funds, the bill spends $323 million this biennium and will cost the general fund another $900 million for fiscal years 2016-17. Bailouts for MnSCU union employees, free public transit on Election Day and a number of gifts to St. Paul/Minneapolis and other DFL strongholds are also in this bill.
Raising taxes by $2 billion last year and operating under a $1.2 billion surplus apparently isn’t enough. After growing spending in 2013 by $1500 for every man, woman and child, it looks like Minnesota taxpayer dollars will continue to be squandered with no fiscal restraint in sight.
Democrats continue to put self service above public service, and are politicizing bipartisan issues by placing them in a huge spending bill for political gain. Minnesotans deserve better.
Honor and Remember Flag Receives Informational Hearing in House
This week, the State Government Finance and Veterans Affairs Committee held an information hearing on House File 68, which would designate the Honor and Remember Flag as an official symbol to commemorate service members who lost their life in the line of duty.
Several Gold Star families testified in support of the bill, and gave touching testimony about the sacrifice their children made in service to our country.
Twenty states currently have adopted similar legislation and many more states have introduced bills. I hope Minnesota will become the twenty-first state to adopt the Honor and Remember Flag to pay tribute to our veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Minnesota Lyme Association Open House
Minnesota has between 12,000 and 15,000 cases of Lyme disease every year.
I have worked with the Minnesota Lyme Association in the past, passing legislation to allow doctors to prescribe enough antibiotics to properly treat Lyme disease, which often hangs on for longer than the 28 days the MN Medical Board allows doctors to prescribe antibiotics to patients.
The Minnesota Lyme Association is hosting an open house on April 7 from 9:00AM-3:00PM in 300N of the State Office Building to talk with legislators and others about Lyme disease in Minnesota. With thousands of Minnesotans affected each year, it’s an important and too often overshadowed topic.
As always, thank you for the honor and privilege of being your state representative.