Posted: 04/25/15 21:53
by Dave Mindeman
The Star Tribune finally put some newspaper words that talks about what has been percolating under the surface at the Capitol all session.... the GOP's supposed "emphasis" on rural Minnesota.
The House Republicans, in their cutting zeal, have forgotten that greater Minnesota actually has policies that they want which require investment.
It looks like rural Minnesota is discovering the same tired old MN GOP:
...the centerpiece of the GOP agenda is a $2 billion tax cut plan that has left few resources for those rural-geared initiatives.
And it is not like outstate advocates didn't tell them about their priorities...
Two groups, the Greater Minnesota Partnership and Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, together represent dozens of outstate cities, businesses, chambers of commerce, nonprofits and other groups. As the session started, the two groups released a list of priorities, the top one being $100 million for grants and tax credits aimed at building new housing for middle-income workers in small communities.
At a time of a nearly $2 billion surplus, that seemed like a reasonable request. But has it happened? No.
And then there is broadband. Rural Minnesota needs this upgrade to enhance their ability to keep up in the information age. The Democrats have been working on this, although not at the pace that greater Minnesota has wanted. But guess what, the House GOP CUT IT! At first, under Rep. Pat Garofalo, they completely eliminated the program - but when the grumbling started to get louder, they slipped in an $8 million token to continue funding it...which didn't stop the grumbling.
And greater Minnesota also looked for more help in targeted LGA money for rural cities. Instead, what they got is a House GOP plan to punish Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth (all DFL strongholds) with $85 million in cuts. But did the rural cities get an equivalent bump? Again, NO is the answer as the money was added to the "tax cut pool".
And then there is MinnesotaCare. Republicans have gleefully jumped onto a cutting spree in Health and Human Services which ends the "giveaway" known as MinnesotaCare. But,hey, wait a minute, there is a fact getting in the way....
To pay for its tax cuts, the GOP is pursuing major reductions in health and human services spending. Among those, eliminating MinnesotaCare, the health insurance subsidy program for lower income workers. But that repeal could also wind up hurting rural Minnesota. According to information compiled by the Department of Human Services, the 25 counties with the highest number of MinnesotaCare enrollees per capita all are outstate.
Part of the workings for the Minnesota version of the ACA was a change in how assets were treated in determining eligibility for MinnesotaCare. What this did is allow rural farmers to obtain health care through the MinnesotaCare program. Since farmers can't get coverage via discounted group rates, this allowed them to get affordable coverage via an already in place state program - which has been working.
But apparently the House GOP wants to dump them into that "high risk" pool once more.
And then there is the estate tax cut they are planning. The House GOP believes that farmers would be the biggest beneficiary. However, most of the small rural farmer in Minnesota are already exempt under the current estate tax law - although the big mega corporate farm owners will realize a huge benefit.
Yes, there are some nursing home provisions that will benefit rural areas more than metro - although why they needed to be treated so differently is mystery for the House GOP to explain.
So, after all the rhetoric about how the House GOP was now going to truly meet the needs of greater Minnesota....we find out that these charlatans don't really understand what rural Minnesota actually wants.
Sorry, rural Minnesota, you've been had.