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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative Update

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It’s been another busy week at the Capitol, and the highlight was a massive supplemental budget bill that passed the House on Thursday. House File 3172 increases spending by $323 million over the next two years and costs another $900 million in fiscal year 2016-17.

The biggest cost in this bill is actually put off until next biennium—a costly Obamacare bailout. Taxpayers will be on the hook $406 million in fiscal years 2016-17 with this shift and gimmick. The bill requires the Healthcare Access Fund (HCAF) shortfall, caused by mandates from Obamacare and the 2013 expansion of MinnesotaCare and Medicaid, be paid with General Fund dollars.

What’s more troubling, is that under this bill MinnesotaCare is moved to a forecast budget permanently in 2018, continuing to be funded by General Fund dollars thereafter. Doing this leaves little incentive to rein in costs or public health care enrollment. This shift continues a trend of government growth at the expense of taxpayers.

This costly Obamacare bailout is hidden behind a number of positive, bipartisan provisions in HF 3172 that are also important to point out. A $58 per pupil increase in the K12 funding formula, increased penalties for sex offenders, funds for pothole repairs and full funding of the 5% Campaign are included in the bill.

There are also a number of items in HF 3172 that affect the agriculture community in Minnesota. One provision I support regarding agriculture is a $1.5 million appropriation for the Second Harvest Greatland Farm-to-Food Shelf program. This reimburses agriculture producers who supply surplus food to food banks. This program is great for both our local farmers and food shelves across Minnesota.

Additionally, to help farmers in our area, I authored an amendment for HF 3172 to help pig farmers deal with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV).   Solving the PEDV problem is vital for the health of our agriculture industry, and the amendment appropriated $1.2 million for PEDV research at the University of Minnesota. I am happy my amendment was added to the bill on a unanimous, bipartisan vote.

Still, even with the positive initiatives in the bill, the bad still far outweighs the good.

Reckless spending increases, government growth and shifting debt down the road is bad government policy and squanders hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money. After raising $2.1 billion in taxes last year and increasing government spending by $1500 for every man, woman and child in Minnesota, how much more can taxpayers really afford?

The legislature needs to get their fiscal house in order, and instead of spending more on new wasteful projects, we should be returning this money to Minnesota taxpayers.

I will continue to work on your behalf in St. Paul. If I can ever help you or your family on a matter of state government, please do not hesitate to contact me.



Fun Facts: Just How Big was House File 3172?

  • Weight: 2 pounds, 14 ounces
  • Pages: 446
  • Words: 149,511
  • Lines: 14,785
  • Provisions: 1,029
  • Sections: 495