Last Friday we finished the first round of work on state agency finance bills with the House’s Health and Human Services finance bill. If left unchecked HHS spending is projected to increase by about $2.6 billion over the next two years. HHS spending is about 32 percent of state general fund spending and rapidly growing. It is second only to K-12/higher education spending which, when combined, represents roughly 50 percent of general fund spending.
The House would appropriate about $13.7 billion for HHS spending over the next two years, which would reduce the projected $2.6 billion increase by about $599 million. That was not an easy decision. But if left unchecked the rate of increase in this area will ultimately destabilize the entire state budget. The changes we propose focus on supporting our most vulnerable citizens with targeted help for the disabled, the elderly, and victims of abuse and neglect.
Some key provisions in the HHS bill include:
This week I am back in the district for the Easter/Passover break. So far I have attended the Aitkin County Land Departments Regional Loggers Summit at the Long Lake Conservation Camp. The take away is our forestry industry continues to operate in a very environmentally responsible manner and remains one of our areas economic pillars.
I also visited with the Aitkin County Board of Commissioners. We had a wide ranging discussion on issues facing our area. Fixing our road and bridges, tax reform that aids our local businesses and senior citizens, Real ID and reducing state mandates dominated the topics.
If you have not already done so, please complete my online survey at this link. Next week we will return to St. Paul for the remaining five weeks left of this legislative session. Please accept our family’s best wishes as we pause to celebrate Easter and Passover.