Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The state’s fishing opener is this weekend. Despite the shutdown closing many businesses, I know many of you still plan to get out and enjoy Minnesota’s official start of summer. If you are planning to get out on the river or lake this weekend, I encourage you to order a great meal from a local restaurant working curbside pickup. Be safe and good luck!
And, we’ll also celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday. To every mom, grandma, and great grandma, I want to wish you a special day at a time that many families cannot be together. Here’s a photo of my amazing mother from early March when she visited me in St. Paul. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!
BUDGET SURPLUS DISAPPEARS, BUDGET DEFICIT ARRIVES
On Tuesday, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released an updated budget forecast for the current two-year budget cycle, and as we anticipated the numbers were not good. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the decisions resulting in business closures and over 600,000 Minnesotans on unemployment, have caused an unprecedented economic decline.
In six weeks time, Minnesota has witnessed a nearly $4 billion dollar swing in revenue projections: what was once a $1.5 billion surplus in January has now turned into a $2.426 billion budget deficit.
The Governor and the legislature must act together and begin addressing this economic problem now. Many families and businesses are making less money and have curbed their spending, and now it's time for state government to also participate in this pain. Not only do we need to find areas to reduce government spending, but we also urgently need to get Minnesota back to work in order to stop this economic freefall.
The updated budget numbers should show the Governor that we don't have any more time to wait to safely re-open businesses - especially in rural Minnesota where we have limited spread of this virus.
GOVERNOR ALLOWS SOME ELECTIVE SURGERIES
On Tuesday, Governor Walz issued a new Executive Order 20-51, which lifts restrictions on doctors, dentists, and veterinarians to perform some elective surgeries and procedures. The facilities must also submit a safety plan compliant with Minnesota Department of Health guidelines before opening.
We all agree that resuming access to medical care and treatment for all Minnesotans is vital. I trust our hospitals and healthcare providers to make the best decisions on patient safety and care plans. While I agreed the initial delay in elective surgeries was the right decision, I am now confident that our hospitals and healthcare providers can safely provide elective procedures without compromising COVID-19 readiness.
While this announcement is a step in the right direction, I do have concerns about some requirements in this Executive Order. Minnesota has the best health care system in the nation, and our professionals should be trusted by the Governor to provide the care Minnesotans need.
Additionally, many nurses and providers have been furloughed and this order doesn't go far enough in making our healthcare system fully accessible to Minnesotans. I urge the Governor to continue moving forward and put healthcare delivery decisions back in the hands of our medical leaders where it belongs.
Wishing all the mothers and all the fishermen a great weekend!