An agreement was reached by Governor Walz, Speaker Hortman, and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka Sunday evening on the framework of Minnesota’s budget for the next two years. It’s the nature of compromise that not everyone gets what they want, but with solid funding for education and ensured health care for over a million Minnesotans, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
The specifics of our budget will be worked out in conference committees today, and I expect the House and Senate to be voting on components of our budget well into the evening. As I write this, we’re at the point where it’s unclear what the finished product will look like, but Minnesota has proven that compromise is possible in a divided government.
The general education formula will see a two percent increase in each year of the upcoming biennium. This is an area where the DFL fought especially hard to ensure that our students have access to the world-class education they deserve, and I’m glad my colleagues in the Senate saw the benefit in investing in Minnesota’s schools.
The Health Care Access Fund would have lost funding this year after almost three decades of assisting our most vulnerable Minnesotans, but our ability to come together for a better state has ensured affordable health care is still a reality for the more than one million Minnesotans that rely on this fund.
Even as the budget is being finalized, there are areas I know will have to be revisited in the future. I’ll wait to see what happens with our Transportation budget, but Minnesota’s roads and bridges deserve substantial investment, and I’ll continue to advocate for the transportation system that our community and state deserve.
Lowering Medication Costs
Outside of budget negotiations, that are also other examples of bipartisan success, especially in the areas of health care. The House and Senate recently passed legislation that takes on the rising costs of medication by regulating Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM). PBMs develop and maintain lists of covered drugs (formularies) that they offer to pharmacies. Drug manufacturers give rebates to PBMs to encourage the sale of their products, incentivizing PBMs to remove less expensive drugs from their formularies, and causing drug prices to rise.
PBMs change their formularies whenever they can get a higher rebate, resulting in doctors having to change patients’ prescriptions, sometimes several times a year, and often leading to more expensive medications. The bill passed by the Legislature would give the Department of Commerce authority over the licensing of PBMs, requiring them to notify health carriers of conflicts of interest.
The bill is on its way to Governor Walz to be signed into law. You can read more about this legislation here.
Stay In Touch
We only have hours left before our constitutional deadline of midnight tonight, and though the schedule ahead is fairly fluid, I expect some procedural overtime will be necessary to pass our budget in a way that is open and transparent to the people of Minnesota. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you might have about our work at the State Capitol. You can always reach me at (651) 296-4255, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.