Two weeks into the state government shutdown – the longest in history – Governor Dayton and Republican legislative leadership struck a deal outlining a framework for a budget agreement. Governor Dayton announced in a speech yesterday that he was willing to accept the Republican’s June 30 budget offer, with some conditions, in order to get the government working again. Dayton said he was “willing to agree to something I do not agree with” to end the shutdown. Dayton, Speaker Kurt Zellers & Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch emerged from a 3 hour meeting to announce they had agreed to a framework based on that budget offer.
Agreement Closes $1.4 Billion Gap with Funding Shifts, Tobacco Bonds
The framework includes a $2.1 billion in savings from a shift in school aid payments and $700 million in one-time revenue from the issuance of tobacco bonds, but no tax increases. Dayton’s additional conditions were a $500 million bonding bill, removal of some controversial policy provisions the GOP proposed earlier in negotiations and removal of a proposed 15% state workforce cut. This agreement closes the remaining $1.4 billion difference between the two sides. Click Here to view Dayton’s letter to Zellers and Koch outlining the proposal.
Many details still need to be worked out on the budget deal. Finance Chairs and Commissioners will join the discussions starting today with Health and Human Services. No date is set for the special session yet, but Dayton said the shutdown will be over in a matter of days. Meetings are expected to occur around the clock for the next few days to hammer out the remaining details.
What Does it Mean for Older Adult Services?
We do not have any details as to what this means for older adult service providers. For the past several days, Aging Services has engaged key legislators in one-on-one meetings regarding the budget negotiations, and the general consensus is that the final bill will closely mirror the budget position in the HHS conference committee report passed by the legislature at the end of the regular session, but vetoed by the Governor. Legislators have indicated that the key negotiators as “very close” to closing up the HHS bill, as they have been meeting regularly since budget talks broke down in June.
As a reminder, the conference committee HHS bill included $4.4 million in spending reductions to care centers (taken out of forecasted spending increases and not existing rates) and over $32 million in reductions to the Elderly Waiver program. While the HHS conference committee report also included a phase out of rate equalization, it is quite likely that provision is not part of this final deal, as one of the conditions the Governor made was that there was to be “no policy provisions” passed in special session. Again, these positions could change during these final budget negotiations.
Communicating with Lawmakers
With so much still at stake, it remains a high priority to keep communicating directly with legislators. Throughout session, Aging Services has advocated for lawmakers to support the full continuum of older adult services. Our messages will remain consistent in the coming days or weeks as final budget details emerge and a special session is called:
- We must prioritize and protect Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens.
- The details matter now more than ever. We urge lawmakers to look at the specific impacts of cuts being proposed and how they will impact older adult service providers and the thousands of seniors who depend on them.
- Older adult services in Minnesota are important economic drivers, generating more than 142,000 jobs.
- Reform and innovation should be top priorities in addressing the needs of seniors and vulnerable adults.
You are a resource to your legislators. This budget will come together very quickly without the benefit of public input. When you contact your legislators, also offer to be a resource for them. They will need to make tough decisions in the coming days and weeks, and you can provide firsthand knowledge about the human impacts of these decisions.
A Difficult Deal for All
The mood was somber when Dayton, Zellers and Koch addressed the media after their meeting, with all of them noting that no one got quite what they wanted in the negotiations. Dayton remarked “No one’s going to be happy with this, which is the essence of compromise;” to which Zellers added that this was “a deal we all can be disappointed in, but a deal that’s done.”
SOURCE: Aging Services of Minnesota