This bill was debated and passed in the Minnesota House this week. We will be scoring it negatively (A YES is bad, a A NO is good) in our 2014 scorecard. We’re doing this for the simple reason that we thought last year’s spending was too much and now here comes MORE spending that is being spent simply because State government has it. And it has it because it over taxed Minnesotans.
In this bill is payment for union contract increases that were signed by the administration AFTER the budget went into affect last year. Do you think that bargaining was affected by the fact that there was a budget surplus available for the taking?
When some members challenged this pay increase on the floor of the House yesterday, they were pushed back with majority cries of “who are you going to lay off?” “We’ll be laying off prison guards and endangering public safety!” The problem with that argument is that if salary increases weren’t built into last year’s budget bill, would the DFL planning on laying people off? Of course they weren’t.
Where else did the money go? In their haste to create MNSure, the legislature and Governor Dayton bankrupted the Health Care Access Fund with the Medicaid expansion; billions are now needed to fill that hole, now and in “the tails.” Thanks Obamacare!
There were also a number of random spiffs for various constituencies. One provision paid for free buses on Election Day, something expected to benefit mostly urban areas.
Another provision created a potential slush fund for the Bureau of Mediation Services, the small agency that mediates state worker union grievances. Now they can work on public policy issues with money from outside groups. Like unions. What could possibly go wrong?
Yet another provision was a statewide mandate for 3 sort recycling. This is at a time when many cities moving to single sort recycling. This last one was stripped out with an amendment on a bipartisan vote.
And speaking of recycling, bills with random provisions like this are often called “garbage bills.” That may sound harsh but there was nothing good about this bill. Except for the surplus money and the extra costs associated with Obamacare, it wouldn’t exist.
Republican house members proposed their own version of a spending bill in the form of a delete all amendment. This alternative cut $72 Million from the DFL proposal but from our perspective it just nibbles around the edges of a bad bill. Like the tax bill a few weeks ago, HF 3172 must be added to last year’s big spending and taxing party. It basically gave cover to some of their members who wanted to vote on selected provisions that they thought were important or for which a no vote would draw controversy.
For example, in this bill was the long in the making “puppy mill bill” which regulates pet breeders. Nobody wants to have to vote against puppies!
Despite such a wide variety of subjects in this bill, and the HHS and Healthcare Access Fund provisions, when legislators tried to reform a few pieces of MNSure statute, they were pushed back with the “germaneness” rule, which states that an amendment must fit the subject of the bill. With the crazy number of subjects in this bill, invoking that rule against any amendment was laughable. That rule should be renamed the “shut up we don’t want to talk about it” rule.
May 19 (or whenever they pull the plug on this session with a hearty SINE DIE) can’t come soon enough.