Posted: 04/23/08 05:16
by Dave Mindeman
The Governor's office and the Legislature are starting their budget negotiations and the general idea to the art of compromise is to be honest about those negotiations.
Governor Pawlenty starts the process off with a broken promise. As the NewsCut MPR blog noted on March 7th (quoting information on the Minnesota Medical Association web site), Governor Pawlenty gave the physicians of Minnesota this assurance:
...on January 6, when Pawlenty held a campaign fundraiser and was asked about the (Health Care Access) fund, the Minnesota Medical Association took notice of the answer, posting it on the organization's Web site.
?We were pleased to hear him commit to not using the surplus to balance the budget,? said Dave Renner, MMA director of state and federal legislation, who attended the fund raiser as a representative of MEDPAC, the MMA?s political arm.
The persistent problem with Governor Pawlenty's budget fixes is that he continues to shift money around -- taking it away from its intended use and shuffling it around to plug budget holes.
The Health Care Access Fund and the provider tax that was used to fund it, had the intended purpose to bring down the number of Minnesota's uninsured. It has provided a surplus in the past...and the Governor resorted to raiding it once before, causing a number of people to be bounced off MinnesotaCare.
Using this fund to fix a general budget shortfall is not a long term solution. Doesn't anybody get it? We need to get consistent revenue sources, not shuffle and band-aid money around.
During Governor Pawlenty's tenure we have had budget projections that are all over the board. Our overall budget is disproportionately affected by economic swings..... and these temporary fixes close one hole, while opening up another. This isn't sound fiscal management... it is credit card shuffling.
Pawlenty has put the Health Care Access Fund in play from the beginning of budget talks. He is going to tout his willingness to compromise by putting his current budget out there with only half the fund being used.
The problem is that it should never have been a negotiable commodity. It was set up for a specific purpose. It's funding was carefully crafted and designed to work toward the goal of insuring all Minnesotans.
Our Governor only sees another method of temporarily patching one more budget together. I guess he is counting on it being someone else's problem next year, while he tries to head East for bigger budgets he can mess up.