We've had a busy first couple weeks here at the Capitol. Committees have begun to meet, set their rules, and the first bills are making their way to committee. Below is a quick recap of the biggest issue of the week. Have a great weekend!
Don't Raise Our Healthcare Costs
On Tuesday, Minnesota House Republicans held a press conference urging the new DFL House Majority and Governor Walz not to raise health care costs on Minnesotans by restoring the sick tax—a 2 percent tax levied on most patient services in Minnesota, including things like baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, routine doctor visits, emergency room visits, and more. The tax, which was eliminated as part of bipartisan legislation passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton in 2011, is set to expire starting January 1, 2020. In total, restoring the tax would result in a more than $600 million increase on health care costs for Minnesotans next year alone. Over the past week, Governor Walz called it a "nonstarter" to end the tax, and DFL House HHS Finance Chair Tina Liebling said it was "essential" to restore the tax or replace its revenue.
Last year, numbers from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Budget Director indicated that Minnesota is losing tens of millions of dollars per month by failing to implement periodic data matching (PDM), which helps verify program eligibility for Minnesota public programs. DHS has acknowledged that fraud within the childcare assistance program is a "big problem," costing the state tens of millions of dollars, and the non-partisan legislative auditor has released multiple reports detailing hundreds of millions in public program benefits going to recipients who are not eligible.
We offer a simple alternative: don't raise our health care costs by reviving a tax. You don't make health care more affordable by taxing it. We need to find more creative ways to lower the costs of health care. The rising costs of health care is a major problem and I hope we can bring all parties to the table to find solutions that will benefit Minnesota families.
I have co-authored two bills, HF114 and HF115 to help our local schools. Both bills will help to make funding for schools in our area equitable. They will guarantee a minimum level of funding and create a new source of state aid for schools with lower tax base per pupil.
Please continue to stay in touch to share your thoughts and ideas on issues important to you. You can schedule a time to meet with me in my office anytime by calling (651) 296-9236, or share your thoughts via email by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great week,