House Republicans pushing cuts to health and human services

State Rep. Jim Knoblach
State Rep. Jim Knoblach

The GOP’s plan to take a whack at health and human services will be getting attention this week. Says Tom Scheck for MPR, “Some see the GOP’s plan as a negotiating tactic as Republican leaders prepare for budget talks with Senate Democrats and Gov. Mark Dayton. Key Republican leaders, though, are signaling that it’s no ploy and that cuts need to happen. ‘We have a long history going back many years … of the health and human services area growing and continually outstripping inflation.’ Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, said during a recent hearing. Higher education and other needs have suffered, he added, ‘because health and human services gets a larger and larger share.’” OK. So how about a plan to drive down the cost of health care?

Can you say, “Good stuff for out state”? Ricardo Lopez of the Strib reports, “Gov. Mark Dayton will announced his $850-million bonding bill Tuesday, which is expected to fund construction projects and create jobs across the state. Characterized as a jobs bill, the legislation comes even as leaders in the Republican-led House have said they don’t have plans on proposing a bonding bill this year. Bonding bills have to originate in the House, and as a result, the Senate may follow suit. … Dayton expects to announce the legislation at 10 a.m. Tuesday, along with Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans. Later Tuesday morning, Dayton and Frans will host a conference call with reporters from around the state, a nod that many of the planned projects the bill would fund are in rural Minnesota.”

She’s goin’ pro. Doug Feinberg of the AP says, “Minnesota sophomore Amanda Zahui B. is turning pro. Zahui B., a 6-foot-5 All-American center, could be the top pick in the April 16 WNBA draft. … While the top WNBA salary for rookies is just under $50,000, Zahui B. could make a few hundred thousand dollars playing overseas.” 50K? That’s tippin’-the-maid money in the NBA.

I’m seriously considering tuna casserole for Thanksgiving. Another AP story says, “Health officials in Minnesota are reporting two more cases of bird flu in commercial turkey operations. The latest cases are in Stearns County and in Kandiyohi County.  They’re the sixth and seventh cases in Minnesota, the nation’s top turkey-producing state. Two flocks in Stearns County had already been hit by the disease.  The latest flock includes about 76,000 birds. The Kandiyohi County flock has about 26,000 birds.”

Will he ride a camel to meet the sultan? Says ESPN: “Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN. However, Peterson is unlikely to be reinstated before April 15, according to a league source. That has been the date the NFL set for when the running back would first be eligible to have his suspension lifted.”

KARE-TV’s Lindsey Seavert puts up a story on the growth of immigrant churches in Minnesota. “While some of Minnesota’s church congregations deal with declining membership and empty pews, the Twin Cities also is seeing a greater trend of religious diversity, with rapidly growing immigrant congregations taking a stronghold across the metro area. … Last week, the Pew Research Center released new numbers on the future of world religions. The world’s Christian population is expected to grow from 2.2 billion in 2010 to 2.9 billion in 2050, but in the U.S., Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds of the population in 2050. The study also estimates by 2050, the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.”

Also from MPR’s Tom Scheck: “An executive at St. Jude Medical officially kicked off her campaign for Congress Monday. Angie Craig is one of two Democrats who say they want to challenge Republican U.S. House Rep. John Kline in 2016. Mary Lawrence, a physician who worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs, is also running as a Democrat and will officially kick off her campaign later this week. … Craig was short on specifics when it came to addressing policy. For example, she said she was ‘willing to listen to ideas’ when it came to college affordability. She also said she wants to look at cutting waste and fraud from Social Security but didn’t take a position on whether she would support raising the eligibility age.”

Yeah, what we really need are 50 different emissions policies. In a St. Cloud Times commentary, Joel Johnson, executive director of the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future argues we need to go our own way.  (From their website: “The Coalition for a Secure Energy Future is an organization that has been officially established to get the message out to businesses, policymakers, and residents in the Upper Midwest that retaining an all-of-the-above energy mix that includes coal as a regional energy resource will help keep electric rates low, jobs plentiful, and the economy robust.”) Says Johnson, “It’s very simple: Legislators should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to setting Minnesota’s own environmental rules, not the federal government, nor unelected bureaucrats. Neither Minnesota — nor any other state, for that matter — should be taking dictates from Washington, D.C. on what’s best for their own air quality, businesses, industries and citizens.” Because, you know, air stops at state lines.

Golf is a losing proposition for some taxpayers. Tom Steward at writes, “Thirty-six municipalities in Minnesota are operating golf courses at a loss to taxpayers, according to the latest statewide figures are available from the Minnesota state auditor. The 36 cities golf courses operating as enterprise funds — a fee-based city service — ran up deficits totaling more than $4.5 million. A third of those cities recorded losses of more than $100,000.”

It’s still working in Wisconsin. The AP reports, “The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh says it plans to reduce the number of its sports programs by two, in response to proposed state budget cuts. The school said Monday it plans to drop the men’s soccer and men’s tennis teams, after the 2015-16 school year.”

In case you’ve got “revenge porn” confused with freedom of speech, City Pages Ben Johnson writes, “Minnesota’s criminal defamation law is commonly used to prosecute ‘revenge porn’ cases where jilted ex-lovers post embarrassing sex tapes online to shame their former partners. A group of lawyers say the law, first enacted in 1963, needs to be updated because it’s unconstitutional. They argue the law leaves out a lot of the essential free speech protections that should be standard across America. For instance, if what you said or wrote is true, that’s not enough to get you cleared of a criminal defamation charge. The law states it has to be true and ‘communicated with good motives and for justifiable ends.’” Like, “I hate you so much now I want your mother to reject you.”

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Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/07/2015 - 07:37 am.

    CEO Pay Inflation

    I’d hazard a guess that CEO pay has outstripped inflation by a greater rate than nearly everything else over the last 30 years. But the GOP doesn’t have any problem with that. They get rewarded for failure, and as a group there is no way their increasing pay can be justified by a corresponding increase in productivity.

    So what say we agree to not let health and human services spending outstrip the increase in CEO pay?

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/07/2015 - 12:39 pm.

      I think that’s perfectly reasonable…as soon as we’re forced to write a check at the end of the year to cover CEO salaries.

  2. Submitted by Presley Martin on 04/07/2015 - 08:47 am.


    I’d like to see a plan to control and reduce health care costs. The first step is to make actual costs known to nurses, doctors, and patients. Last fall when a nurse informed me that our insurance might not cover the flu mist for my daughter I asked how much it would cost if I had to pay for it. She left and came back 20 minutes later, and admitted that she wasn’t able to find out the cost!

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 04/07/2015 - 09:25 am.

      Cost Control

      There is already a plan to reduce health care costs, although it doesn’t come from the legislature. The plan is to go with universal health care (yeah, I know–socialist) along with outcome-based compensation reform. Countries who have universal care got their costs down to roughly half of our costs–that’s a lot of money people can put in their back pockets!

  3. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 04/07/2015 - 09:17 am.

    Ok for every dollar off for health and human services spending

    The same dollar off for LGA spending

  4. Submitted by Lara Durben on 04/07/2015 - 09:44 am.

    Bad Joke on the Bird Flu

    While I get the humor about tuna casserole at Thanksgiving, avian flu isn’t a laughing matter for Minnesota farmers who are doing everything they can right now to stop the spread of this devastating virus.

    Plus – and perhaps more importantly to consumers who read The Glean – it is absolutely not a food safety issue at all. Any turkeys diagnosed with avian influenza do NOT get processed for meat.To imply turkey is somehow unsafe for eating is a bad joke.

  5. Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/07/2015 - 09:48 am.

    Republicans plan cuts for…

    In others news, the sun rises in the east.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/07/2015 - 09:58 am.

    The missing numbers

    HHS spending is going up because wages have been flat for the past five years. When more people can’t live on the wages that they earn, then the need for social support increases.

    And I’ll second the suggestion for a national health system. Among other advantages, it will mean that health costs will be knowable because everyone will pay the same price, rather than different prices being negotiated by each insurance company.

  7. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 04/07/2015 - 11:37 am.


    It seems like an oxymoron that a hospital executive would weigh in on cost cutting and affordability of anything.

  8. Submitted by cory johnson on 04/07/2015 - 03:18 pm.

    Single payer makes some sense…

    But outcome based compensation is ridiculous. It assumes patients actually do what that are told which is a fantasy. For single payer to work people also need to take some responsibility for their own lifestyle related issues.

  9. Submitted by Shar Fortunak on 04/07/2015 - 07:38 pm.

    GOP plan to take a whack at health & human services

    More senseless GOP logic…cut health and human services while introducing a Bill to boost aid for Fort Snelling Officers’ Club (a welfare program for white males).

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