A number of new developments have taken place in St. Paul over the last week. Here is a look at some of the headline items:
The capital investment bonding bill, which borrows approximately $1 billion to fund construction projects throughout the state, passed the
Worthy area projects currently included in the bill include: flood mitigation in the Red River Valley, a Tower Road bridge in Fergus Falls, roof repair at Fergus Falls Community College, a trail at Glendalough State Park, and the expansion of the waste burner in Perham.
But there still are a number of “extras” funded by the bill, including sculpture gardens and amateur sports grants that do not provide jobs, support our critical infrastructure or have state/regional significance. I encourage the governor to trim down the bill with line-item vetoes, making it more affordable by including just the essentials.
Details are emerging regarding the majority’s proposal to balance the budget as we face a deficit of nearly $1 billion. The majority announced it will come forth with plans in three phases. The first was issued this week and has cuts totaling $312 million. It includes a $105 million reduction in tax credits and aid, and a $52 million cut to Higher Ed & Workforce Development.
The next two phases are going to be considerably more difficult, however, because their strategy will be pitting cuts to health and human services, along with K-12 education, against tax increases.
We just showed with a solution to fix the GAMC health care system for the poor that bipartisan work can be accomplished. We reached an agreement for a long-term solution to provide better care to low income people on GAMC. The best news of all is people on this program will receive continued care through a new, more efficient system that will save taxpayers more than $700 million over the next two years.
The old GAMC program was unsustainable in cost; it was going to run us about $1 billion over the next biennium. The agreement we came upon caps
spending, directs dollars to the areas of most need, transitions patients to the most appropriate health care program, and helps these folks regain their health and productivity. Key reform was found in connecting previously unconnected health care providers to make sure people are getting care that gets them back on their feet instead of racking up costs.
It should be pointed out this improvement would not have happened had we not upheld Gov. Pawlenty's veto of an unfunded temporary patch.