At midnight, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned the 2011 legislative session as required by the constitution. Their work is not completed, however, as the Republican-run legislature was unable to reach a budget agreement with DFL Governor Mark Dayton that addresses a $5 billion budget deficit.
In the past week the legislature sent budget bills to the Governor and today the Governor vetoed all of those budget bills.
In his veto message regarding the HHS budget bill, Governor Dayton called out two issues related to older adult services. First, the Governor stated his opposition to the level of cuts to home and community based services for the elderly and disabled, pointing out that the bill would force 1,500 people into nursing homes. The governor also seemed to indicate that there should be a better balance in the level of cuts to home and community based services and institutions, such as care centers. The governor wrote, “98% of the reductions to long-term care are to home and community based services with only 2% to institutions.” As a reminder, the HHS budget bill presented to the Governor included $32.5 million in cuts to the Elderly Waiver program. Governor Dayton had proposed a budget that included $30 million in cuts to care centers and $14 million in cuts to the Elderly Waiver program.
The major disagreement between the legislature and Governor is whether tax increases are necessary to balance the state’s budget. Dayton has proposed an income tax increase on top wage earners while the Republican budget focused on spending reductions. Both the legislature and Governor claim a mandate from the people and both sides argue they have already compromised. Neither the legislature nor Governor Dayton appears willing to move off their current positions.
At this point, there is no indication when the Governor will call the legislature back for a necessary special session. Current thinking is that the Governor is unlikely to call the legislature back until an agreement has been reached.
The next deadline is July 1 when the new fiscal year begins — if a budget is not signed into law by that date, or contingency plans made, state government would face a shutdown.
We expect legislative leadership will continue to meet privately with the Governor in an effort to reach an agreement to avoid a shutdown. Those discussions will begin in earnest after the Memorial Day holiday.
Tomorrow, Aging Services will participate in a special meeting of the Long Term Care Imperative to discuss next steps in our advocacy efforts and action needed to prepare for a possible partial government shutdown.
You can learn more about Aging Services of Minnesota by visiting their website at http://www.agingservicesmn.org/