With only one day left of session, the end result is still very much up in the air. On Thursday, the Governor called a press conference to announce that he is prepared to end the session without legislative participation. He indicated he will sign most of the bills that have been sent to him, but will line-item veto those provisions he doesn’t like. He will then do his own budget through a process known as unallotment – he will choose what areas of the budget will be protected, and what ones will be cut, no legislative approval is necessary.
In the last 30 years, governors have only unalloted four times, and two of those times were by Governor Pawlenty. If he chooses that path again this year, it means that 3 out of 5 unallotments have been done by this Governor – and this one will be 10 times larger than any in state history.
The Governor put his plan into action on Thursday night when he cut $381 million from General Assistance Medical Care in the Health and Human Services Bill. Over 30 thousand of the poorest and sickest Minnesotans are on General Assistance, many who suffer from disabilities, chronic illness, mental illness, and homelessness. This population typically receives medical treatment for illness or injury exclusively in hospital emergency rooms, visits that are covered by GAMC. With this cut, the Governor has in effect cut $381 million from the bottom line of already struggling hospitals in our state – including $110 million from Hennepin County Medical Center and $22 million from North Memorial Medical Center.
The Governor indicated that his unallotment will likely look like the first budget he released in January, which included significant cuts to hospitals, nursing homes, higher education and local government aid. Cuts of this magnitude will severely damage our health care institutions and nursing homes and our essential services in our communities, increase college tuition and raise property taxes significantly.
In addition to the severity of these cuts, I have real concerns about one branch of our state government making decisions such as these alone. I encourage the Governor to be up-front about where he will unallot and what line items he will veto. Minnesotans deserve to have the answers to these questions so the conversation about the future of our state is an honest one.
Please continue to contact me with your thoughts and questions.
Rep. Lyndon Carlson