Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer's Week in Review – Feb. 5, 2013
The senator provided this report on her work in the state legislature.
The following update from the Capitol was released by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer Tuesday:
This week we continued to learn more about Governor Dayton’s proposed budget. Overall, his plan calls for $3.6 billion in new taxes, including $2.1 billion in new sales taxes through a broad expansion of the tax on new goods and services. New sales taxes would be imposed on a wide range of transactions including clothing articles over $100, over the counter medications, haircuts, and auto repair services just to name a few.
Health Care Exchange
The Health Insurance Marketplace (exchange) bill continued to be heard in a variety of Senate Committees. This week it was passed out of the Commerce Committee after two hearings on the bill. Many amendments that I supported were offered to increase choices and flexibility for consumers but were rejected. There are still significant concerns about the bill.
The HHS Finance Committee continued reviewing the Governor's health and human services budget. The Governor's FY 2014-15 proposed budget spends $11.57 billion, which is $880 million more than FY 2012-13 and a 9 percent increase over current biennium spending. Much Public testimony was taken on the Governor's budget disagreeing with the new fees and regulations.
The HHS Policy Committee passed Senate File 5 (Medical Assistance Expansion) which is an expansion of Medical Assistance coverage for persons up to 138 percent of the federal poverty guideline. Senators expressed concerns about the bill because the expansion is offered by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. While the federal government says they will pay for the cost of newly eligible enrollees for the first few years of the program, the expansion will cost an unknown amount down the road that the state will be expected to cover.
In the Education Finance Division, attention was given to legislation that would expand Minnesota’s funding of kindergarten from half-day to all-day so that it would be a no additional charges option to families. The Governor’s budget proposal moved in this direction as well, but did not provide all of the funding that would be necessary to pay for it. According to fiscal analysis, to fully fund the all-day proposal would cost over $165 million per year once it was phased in, which is over three times the Governor’s recommendation. Authors of the legislation did not include a revenue proposal to provide the funding. At this time, between 50-60 percent of kindergartners are enrolled in all-day programs with the money being drawn from family fees, federal funds, and miscellaneous areas of school district budgets. Supporters of the measure included elementary school principals, the statewide teachers union, and various school superintendents and board members who believe that academic and social benefits will follow. But a more cautious note was struck by the Minnesota Family Council, which expressed concern over whether families would be taxed more to provide funding for this and other new government programs. The Council also cited studies that showed early education advantages are not long-lasting and tended to be unobservable by third grade.
Online Legislative Survey
Now that we are roughly a month into session, we are picking up the pace and are hearing a wide variety of bills in committees. Here is a good chance for you to provide me with some input on some of the issues that we will be working on. I would greatly appreciate it if you would take a few minutes of your time to fill out my online survey. You can access it by typing the following address in your web browser: bit.ly/WYtwVC
Keep in Touch
Please contact me with any questions or comments or if you need any assistance on a state government issue. I will work to keep you informed of our issues at the Capitol, and please feel free to pass my contact information to your friends and neighbors.
State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer
123 State Office Building
100 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org