Hello from the State Capitol,
Health Insurance Exchange Passed in the Dark of Night
Last night around 1:00 a.m., the House passed the conference committee report to establish a state-run health insurance exchange. House language including a 3.5-percent tax on premiums was adopted in the bill’s final form. An amendment the House added preventing abortions from being funded through this program was stripped from the bill by a conference committee, so it no longer contains provisions for this. The bill passed by a vote of 72-61 with no Republican members of the House voting in support of the bill.
Serious issues regarding consumer privacy, choice and costs remain even after final passage. Patient data could be accessed by the federal government, there is no guarantee patients will be able to see their preferred doctor at their convenience, and the system will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to simply operate. Significant flaws which caused the governor to call this plan “a big gamble” were not corrected by the Democrat majorities during their rush to passage. Many people continue to believe this system is bound to fail, putting us on path for a full-fledged government-run system with even more waste, inefficiency and cost.
Dayton Concedes Taxes Hurt Businesses, Plans More Taxes
On Thursday, Governor Dayton officially abandoned a number of tax increases he was proposing after it became clear he had a lack of public and legislative support. Particularly, he backed down from expanding sales taxes to include services like haircuts and oil changes. The governor also eliminated from his plan a business-to-business sales tax which received resounding criticism.
Dayton’s revised budget still includes a spending increase of $2.7 billion over 2012-13. He proposes raising taxes by $1.8 billion with a $1.1 billion on the top 2 percent of earners, $30 million on snowbirds, $317 million on cigarettes, and a metro transit sales tax plan.
The governor has no intention of paying back money borrowed from schools by the DFL in 2010. This may be the most disappointing element as many of our state’s leaders spoke strongly of paying back the school shift when they began governing in January.
We have a projected budget gap of $627 million in 2014-15, yet Dayton proposes raising taxes by approximately three times that much to pay for more government spending. It is good the governor backed off some of his burdensome taxes, but we are not in the clear because Democrat majorities in the Legislature will author bills to shape the new state budget. Unfortunately, they have proposals to tax everything from gas to alcohol and snacks.
Thanks to all of you that have visited me in St. Paul. This week I met with:
Rep. Quam with members of IBEW
Also, please take the time to fill out my 2013 Legislative Survey. Many of you will receive a copy in the mail, but if you'd like to complete it online, you can do so through my official website, here: