After announcing Thursday he plans to make billions of dollars in budget cuts alone without public or legislative input, Governor Tim Pawlenty eliminated General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) in Minnesota. With one line item veto late Thursday night, the governor cut $381 million that was dedicated exclusively to treat the poorest people in the state - including veterans, senior citizens, and the mentally ill.
Those cuts may result in the full or partial closure of Regions Hospital in St. Paul. By eliminating GAMC, the hospital will face a $46 million budget cut - 10% of its gross revenue. Regions Hospital employs roughly 5,000 people and serves nearly 23,000 patients every year.
The following is a statement from local state lawmakers deeply concerned about these devastating cuts to Regions Hospital and the potential impact on residents of St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs:
"Governor Pawlenty’s veto pen single-handedly put Regions Hospital in St. Paul at serious risk of significantly cutting back critical services or potentially closing its doors. This is a devastating blow to tens of thousands of citizens in St. Paul and the surrounding communities who rely on Regions Hospital for quality, expert medical care. It has threatened thousands of jobs, and the health and safety of our communities.
This deep and devastating cut could have been avoided. Lawmakers offered a responsible alternative that would have cut Regions Hospital only $5.7 million - a budget reduction the hospital could have sustained without significantly drawing back critical medical services to our community.
By eliminating GAMC, Governor Pawlenty has cut 30,000 of Minnesota’s poorest, sickest citizens off health care. Many are veterans, senior citizens, people with mentally illness, or those who are homeless. 70% have expensive mental health or chemical dependency challenges, and 40% have chronic disease that leads to frequent hospitalization. Without care, these Minnesotans will be at risk of devastating health implications.
Finally, these cuts have made the state’s budget shortfall even worse. Eliminating GAMC in Minnesota costs the state $100 million in federal matching funds. It also requires that inmates in county jails and sex offenders who are constitutionally required access to medical care must now be paid for in general fund dollars.
We are deeply disappointed in Governor Pawlenty’s decision to balance the budget with jobs and deep cuts to hospitals. In the final days of session, we’ll keep fighting to protect jobs and keep Minnesota’s hospitals whole."
Posted on Saturday, May 16, 2009 by Erin Murphy,
We are at the home stretch in the 2009 legislative session.
By Wednesday of this week, the Legislature finalized and sent to the Governor the budget bills that make surgical spending cuts and raise reasonable revenue in order to prevent deep and painful cuts to health care, hospitals and nursing homes. Unfortunately, he has decided to balance the budget behind closed doors through a line-item vetoes and a process called unallotment. The Governor has not made public what he plans to cut in the hearings held since his press announcement. Using his budget proposal as a guide, it’s likely he would make very deep cuts to health care and local government aid, causing property taxes to rise again.
On Thursday night, the Governor began making painful cuts to health care through a $380 million line-item veto of General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), eliminating health care coverage for over 30,000 of Minnesotans earning $8,000 a year or less. In testimony yesterday, DHS Commissioner Ludeman describes those served in GAMC as chronically mentally and/or physically ill, homeless and poor. The veto will result in the loss of approximately $46 million from Regions Hospital in St. Paul, which will cause job losses and severe cuts in services.
I appreciate your feedback when I make contact with you. Many of you have asked me to work to raise revenue and many have expressed concern that in this weak economy, new taxes will be an unbearable burden. Since the start of session I have argued for a balanced solution to stabilize the state's budget. Too much revenue from Minnesotans will slow recovery just as will cuts too deep to manage. CEO's from Region's, Bethesda, St. Paul Children's, all large employers, have been clear about their inability to absorb the cuts resulting from the Governor’s veto. I have worked all session to strike the balance between cuts and revenue. The plan to veto and unallot will hurt St. Paul with more job loss, higher health care costs and higher property taxes.
With a $6.4 billion budget deficit, we know there is a lot at stake in our budget solution. Please take some time to listen to what a few Minnesotans have to say about budget cuts to hospitals, schools and nursing homes at the following links:
Minnesotans Speak – Health Care on the Chopping Block
Minnesotans Speak – Please don’t close Minnesota hospitals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCa8DmK6c-U&feature=related
Minnesotans Speak – Disabled and mentally ill face deep cuts
Minnesotans Speak – Governor’s cuts hurt our schools and students
The Legislature must adjourn on Monday, May 18th at midnight. Until then, I encourage you to come to the Capitol to voice your concerns. If you can’t make it to the Capitol, you can call the Governor at 651-296-3391 and ask him to raise reasonable revenue to prevent devastating cuts to our hospitals, schools and nursing homes.
The past month has been very intense- a theme of the session this year. Lots has happened since my April post. We have worked most every day since our early April break- making great progress. We have assembled and passed the omnibus budget bills off the floor and to conference committee. A number of the committees have wrapped up their bills and sent bills to the Governor.
The House website is full of information on the budget bills, their progress and side by side budget comparisons. Go to to learn more.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve-- though a little weary tonight!
Posted on Friday, May 8, 2009 by Erin Murphy,
The Legislature took an important step today to solve our budget
shortfall and I would like to share with you our plan to raise
responsible revenue in order to prevent the closure of hospitals,
nursing homes and deep cuts to our schools.
Throughout the legislative session, we have been debating how best to
solve our $6.4 billion shortfall. The Governor and Legislature have
agreed both cuts and new revenue is needed to solve our shortfall in
order to prevent dramatic and deep cuts. Without new revenue, over $1
billion will be cut from hospitals and nursing homes and $600 million
from our schools. In total, these cuts would cause the loss of over
20,000 Minnesota jobs and the closure of many hospitals and nursing
In our area, that will mean about $50 million will be cut from Regions
Hospital in St. Paul and about $34 million would be cut from the St.
Paul school district.
The Governor has proposed about $1.5 billion in cuts and the House has
proposed $1.6 billion - $100 million more in cuts than the Governor.
The Governor has proposed a revenue plan that raises $1 billion through
borrowing which would be paid back over the next 20 years with $600
million in interest. This revenue plan does not appear to be an option
because it was voted down bipartisanly by the Legislature on a vote of
131 to 2.
To strike a balance, the Legislature offered a plan today that raises
the same amount of revenue the Governor is proposing, but does so
without asking our children to pay for it. Minnesota’s highest earners
would pay a slightly higher income tax rate, tax on alcoholic beverages
would increase by a few cents– the first increase in 22 years, and
credit card companies that charge customers more than 15 percent in
interest will be asked to pay a surcharge. The revenue raised will go
directly towards preventing catastrophic cuts to schools, hospitals and
nursing homes and nothing else - and the income tax provisions will
sunset once our economy recovers.
While it’s never easy voting for any tax increases, the alternative
would be closing hospitals, nursing homes and dramatically cutting our
schools. In my opinion, we must take the difficult but responsible
action to cut spending and raise reasonable revenue in order to prevent
catastrophic cuts to our most important Minnesota values. It’s the
best way to pull Minnesota through this budget crisis without
jeopardizing the future health of our state.
If the Governor disagrees and will not support any new revenue, our
schools, hospitals and nursing homes will be faced with the dramatic
cuts I have listed above. I encourage you to share your thoughts with me
about our plan to raise revenue to preserve our schools, hospitals and
nursing homes and to contact the Governor as well. You can call the
Governor at 651-296-3391.