In a letter to Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, two members of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's cabinet express "strong concerns" about more than $1 billion of spending cuts contained in the House health and human services budget bill.
Abeler chairs the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee and released details of the bill earlier this week.
Human services commissioner Lucinda Jesson and Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter note that some key provisions of the bill were not analyzed by their departments for their fiscal impact. They write that "passing legislation without a real understanding of the fiscal details related to such an enormous portion of spending puts the fiscal stability of our state in serious jeopardy."
Their specific areas of concern include a $483 million proposal to hold spending for elderly and disabled services at current levels; a request for permission from the federal government to reduce Medicaid spending by $300 million; a $216 million dollar plan to reduce health care services for adults without children and the elderly disabled; and $293 million in reductions to health care providers.
Here's the letter:
So let me get this straight. The Department heads that have to administrate the HHS budget are complaining about the budget. Keeping spending at current levels or reducing it will make their jobs harder, no doubt. And, they want their people, who dont' want any reductions or leveling off of spending, to determine the budget's impact on their department. Fox, hen house, anybody?
The main premise seems to be that the Republicans are doing their own estimates of cost savings, individuals affected, and so on. Traditionally, fiscal notes have been attached to major pieces of legislation that are done by economists and analysts who not only have the skills to do the job, they also sit in front of committees and painstakingly answer questions about how they arrived at their numbers.
We are well beyond the fantasy of keeping budgets at current levels. It is not sustainable and needs to be adjusted. But I have little faith in the political operatives that are piecing together numbers in the middle of the night that satisfy their political masters.
This isn't about filling potholes or adding a new rail line. It's about a lot of elderly and disabled Minnesotans who will probably find themselves coping with fewer services. It's always easy when it is someone else's nameless, faceless family member. When it is your family member, it is a different story.