Subject: MSSA Legislative Update #13, Shaken Baby and H&HS Funding bills
April 29, 2009 Volume 116, Number 13
MSSA Public Policy Initiative Passes MN Legislature and is Signed by the Governor
A piece of MSSA’s Public Policy Agenda has successfully passed through the legislative process and has been signed into law by Governor Pawlenty on April 27, 2009. The Shaken Baby Syndrome Training Act (HF782 Sterner/SF978 Erickson-Ropes) passed the Legislature on a strong bi-partisan vote of 122 to 12 in the House and 64 to 0 in the Senate; fittingly during National Shaken Baby Awareness Week! This bill requires sudden infant death and shaken baby syndrome training for child care providers to address the risks not just for infants, but for children up to age 5. The bill affects over 40,000 providers and includes all corporate and family daycare and foster care providers providing services to the very young, together with certain CD treatment programs that treat parents who have infants and small children with them. “Minnesota has always been a leader in common-sense child protection laws,” said Representative Sterner after the bill’s passage. “This bill simply helps make sure child-care providers have accurate information about the risks of shaking a small child up to the age of five, which in turn may help avert a tragedy.” MSSA wishes to thank our chief authors Representative Phil Sterner of Apple Valley and Senator Sharon Erickson-Ropes of Winona for their skillful leadership in bringing this much needed child protection prevention legislation into Minnesota law. Story by Stan Groff, MSSA Public Policy Liaison
MN House and Senate Pass H&HS Funding Bills
The stage is now set for a conference committee on the Omnibus Health and Human Service funding bill for 2010-2011. Once the Senate and House iron out their differences by May 7, the second stage is set for the major conflict with the Governor.
The following are the highlights of the differences between the three strategies to solve the $4.6 billion deficit that we face in the next biennium and how it impacts funding for H&HS:
The Governor would cut H&HS by $1.7 billion in 2010-2011 and $2.4 billion in 2012-2013.
The Senate would cut about $625 million in 2010-2011 and $940 million in 2012-2013 (SF 695).
The House would cut about $437 million in 2010-2011 and $608 million in 2012-2013 (HF 132).
The primary reason for the differences has to do with how each of the above would raise new revenue. The Governor has promised to veto any new tax increase but does use some budget gimmicks to “produce” new revenue. The Governor would shift k-12 funding (about $1.5 billion) from the 2010-2011 biennium to the following biennium. The Governor’s second gimmick is to borrow about $1 billion from anticipated tobacco revenue. This gimmick would costs the state in two ways. First, the state would not have that money to spend over the next 20 years and the state would have to pay interest on the loan that is likely to top about $600 million. Neither the Senate nor the House uses this second gimmick.
The Senate proposes to raise taxes by $2.2 billion and to use no gimmicks to balance their budget. The House would raise taxes by about $1.5 billion and would use the same gimmick as the Governor to shift k-12 funding into the future biennium.
Once the House and Senate complete and pass a conference committee report (by May 7), it is my expectation that the Governor will veto the bill. I am pessimistic that in the final days before the May 18th deadline that a global agreement will be hammered out between the parties. If I am correct, the next step will be protracted negotiations and a possible special session at the end of June.
The remainder of this newsletter is a related story from one of MSSA’s strategic partners, Affirmative Options, Deborah Schlick, Executive Director:
How MN’s welfare to work program fares in budget proposals
The Minnesota House and Senate both passed Health and Human Service budget bills Monday – with very different proposals for the Minnesota Family Investment Program.
As Affirmative Options has reported earlier, the House of Representatives adopts almost all of the cuts Governor Pawlenty proposed to the program.
The budget bill passed by the Minnesota Senate, however, would adopt only one of those cuts and would use federal emergency funds from the stimulus bill to make improvements to the program. The one cut the Senate bill adopts is to reduce a work bonus for parents who leave welfare with a job from $75 a month to $50 a month. That bonus is scheduled to be implemented next fall. The improvements to MFIP in the Senate bill would include $6.5 million of funding in 2011 for “stepping stone” jobs – short-term paid work for parents on assistance who cannot secure work in the competitive labor market. In addition, the Senate bill would create emergency extensions to the time limits – because of the historic loss of jobs in the labor market.
The House and Senate will meet in a conference committee to work out the differences in their bills. Once those differences are worked out, the legislature must vote and then forward the bill to Governor Pawlenty.
What happens to the assistance available to Minnesota’s poorest children and their families through MFIP depends on the struggle between the Governor and the legislature on whether or not to raise taxes to deal with the state’s more than $5 billion deficit – a deficit caused primarily by falling revenue, not increasing costs.
If the Governor prevails and new revenues are not part of the solution, the cuts to health and human services will be much deeper than either the House or Senate current proposals.
The Governor’s proposed cuts to MFIP include:
A $125 a month cut in assistance to families with disabled parents or children;
A $100 a month cut in assistance to families who have found subsidized housing (up from a $50 a month cut);
Cutting off assistance at lower earnings when parents go to work – at 110% of poverty;
Making it harder for parents to pursue education and training by imposing additional work requirements on those parents;
A 5% cut to the fund counties use to fund services to families on MFIP and to fund emergency assistance; and
Eliminating eight intensive regional Integrated Services Projects for the most challenged families on MFIP.
The House adopts all those cuts except the proposal to make it harder for parents to pursue education and training.
Put someone you know on the map
Go to www.aboutusall.org. Put a sentence or two about someone you know who relies on Minnesota’s health and human services network – an elderly relative in a nursing home, a family member who must contend with a mental illness, a neighbor with a disability, a friend who is unemployed, someone you care about who has had to turn to MFIP. We want to fill that map with thousands of Minnesota stories – to remind legislators that the decisions they are making are not about numbers on a page but about people we care about – about us all.
Minnesota Social Service Association