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.
Posted on Saturday, May 16, 2009 by Erin Murphy,