Today is the day that the legislature waits for to make its economic plans and the news is good for the State of Minnesota. A surplus of $329 million has been projected by the State Economist and the outside forecasters for the FY 2018-19 biennium. The revenue forecast for the biennium is up $353 million compared to the November forecast. Higher forecasts for all the major tax types contributed to the change.
This positive reversal is in part because the November 2017 forecast was especially dire. At that point, Congress had not passed a huge federal subsidy to the Children's healthcare program (CHIPS). It was caught up in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act negotiations, in the continuing funding resolution, DACA, and some other contentious votes. It passed, and so there no longer had to be an assumption of that potential hole in Minnesota's budget
But it's also undeniable that tax cuts are having an effect, especially the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act but also the modest relief passed in last year's tax bill. You remember that bill? The one Governor Dayton said he was blackmailed into signing and wanted a do-over. That one.
It's more important than ever that the legislature and the Governor work together this session to craft a conformity bill that gives Minnesotans tax relief so that the turnaround we see here continues.
This morning 2/27/2018, the the HHS Policy Committee in the Minnesota House, the Chair of the HHS Finance Committee, Rep. Matt Dean introduced a bill, HF 2725 that would start to peel away at the layers of of bureaucracy and even outside vendors that are part of the MNSure monstrosity. The bill would create a new system, based in the counties of determining eligibility for need based health insurance and get people who don't need and aren't eligible for subsidies back to private sector brokers to help them find insurance. The committee heard testimony from the counties association, from an insurance broker and (in opposition) from a testifier who works for a company that is an outside vendor to MNSure, providing "navigators"that help people get through the cumbersome MNSure processes. The company, a for profit, Briva Health gets grant money ($340,000 last year) from MNSure to help people get insurance through MNSure. She said 40% of their operations are due to this grant.
It's a good example of how government programs spawn "stakeholders" who then clamor to make sure their interests continue to be served.