Monthly Archives

January 2009

The Budget and Health Care

By | Economy, Health Care | No Comments

healthGovernor Pawlenty has missed an important opportunity in the recently released budget for the upcoming biennium. This budget relies heavily on one time money to pay for ongoing expenses, contributing to a significant structural imbalance. The budget hits health care programs especially hard.
The Governor’s budget removes 113,000 people from state health care programs through FY11 just as layoffs are increasing and jobs become scarce. Even more people stand to lose health care if the Governor’s provider payment cuts reduce access and curtail prevention efforts. The budget eliminates dental, chiropractic, podiatry, and rehabilitation services for our most vulnerable adults. It also eliminates all MnCare coverage for adults without children.
The Health Care Access Fund is gutted as the plan transfers these dollars to the general fund. However, the tax paid by providers, our medical and dental professionals, and social workers will remain. When the tax dollars went to the underinsured or underserved, there was some buy-in by our health care professionals. Where is the incentive to pay into the Fund now?
Furthermore, cuts to health care jeopardize federal stimulus money with its Medical Assistance (MA) eligibility cuts. In addition, state dollars help leverage federal matching funds. Failure to provide state dollars means additional cuts to health care. Those responsibilities will be passed on to property taxpayers, increasing burdens on county governments, nonprofits, and hospitals.
We need long term solutions to this budget crisis. Fiscal responsibility, without making our health care problems worse, should be at the forefront of the budget discussion.

The Budget Proposed

By | Economy | No Comments

tpawToday Governor Pawlenty revealed his budget proposal for the 2010-11 biennium. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, the legislature and the public will have a chance to look it over and weigh in on the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is the job of the Minnesota legislature. We will take a look at the Governor’s proposals and gather input on these and other proposals brought forth by Senators, Representatives, and citizens like you.
We value your input. This is why we have committee meetings, working groups, and town hall meetings across the state. Budget cuts have real consequences for those directly and indirectly affected. Whether the issue is education, health care, Local Government Aid, or College tuition, it is important to hear from the stakeholders involved.
Eventually the Finance committee, with input from all legislative committees, will craft a budget to present to the Governor. The process will be difficult. Tough times call for tough decisions. Please make sure your voice is a part of that process.
The Minnesota House and Senate have set up websites where you can leave comments and suggestions to help solve the deficit. The Senate website can be found at http://budgetforum.senate.mn/ I will be holding town meetings in several cities in District 25 in early February. Stay tuned for specific times, dates, and locations. We look forward to hearing from you.

“Keep On A-Walking, Children”

By | Event | No Comments

kingOn Monday, January 19, we celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fittingly, the following day, we will celebrate the inauguration of the first African American President of the United States, Barack Obama. The following excerpt was taken from an article which appeared in the New American Review, January 1969, and written by Pat Watters. He had been to the Poor People’s March in Washington D.C. the week after MLK’s death. He penned his thoughts on his return to Georgia…
It was hot in Atlanta when we got down. The cab driver complained of the unrelenting quality of the goddamned heat in that ageless, always surprised, equinox after equinox, complaint of the Southerner. The Movement is dead. I said to myself. And there is no hope that lasts. They have known that for some time in other places: in France they have embodied it into a philosophy; in India, they have nurtured their religion on it. Negroes in the South have known it, through slavery and since then – existing, making do. How did the SNCC kids, with all their reading of Camus, miss that? Keeping on, those of them still at it, coining their rhetoric from the metal of hope, showing in all their hate-talk now only the other side of the love-talk, anything to avoid accepting hopelessness. Dr. King knew about that. Making do, as Southern Negroes always have done, with an irrelevant and irrational religion, he forged a world-view of staggering insight. Making do with the worst of his followers by drawing the best out of them, he built a movement that shook America, almost converted some of it, at the very least he put an end to Southern institutionalization of racism. And then he had seen his philosophy and strategy of nonviolent change lose influence, had seen American steadily moving in the opposite direction from the one he sought. You get down to hopelessness, finally, his kind of hopelessness, and then you see that it is still possible to keep on, to find meaning in meaninglessness, like the Negroes with no food and no purpose, like the demonstrators in the driveway, “Keep on a-walking, children,” Dr. King used to say in the hot, fervent, sacred little churches of the Movement’s great days, “don’t you get weary: We are headed toward the promised land.”

State of the State

By | Event, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20 | No Comments

govAt about 11:40am today, the Minnesota Senate lined up outside the Senate Chambers, ready to proceed down the hall to the Minnesota House of Representatives. At 11:45, after being introduced by the Sergeant-of-Arms, we entered the chamber amid applause from our legislative colleagues. As we walked down the main aisle, we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries to those House members within reach. We took our own seats and awaited the arrival of the Governor. The Supreme Court Justices were introduced and welcomed with a standing ovation….followed by the constitutional officers, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and Auditor Rebecca Otto. The Lieutenant Governor, Carol Molnau, was escorted to her seat. The lone former Governor in attendance, Al Quie, was introduced and given a warm reception as he took a chair in the front row.
At noon, Governor Pawlenty was announced and escorted into the room with two State Patrol officers at his side. The standing ovation lasted several minutes as the Governor worked his way to the front of the room to deliver the “State of the State” address. I sat in the second row, behind the Patrol officers, to the Governor’s left. I, like the others in the room, listened carefully to the Governor as he described the current state of Minnesota. His thirty minute speech touched on the budget crisis, our economy, education reform, jobs, military veterans, energy, health care, and other issues.
The pomp and circumstance of the state of the State was a great experience. Today the Minnesota House and Senate came together to listen to the Governor’s vision for the coming year. We look forward to working with the Governor to achieve the vision we all share: a working economy, great schools, and the best quality of life for the citizens of this state. God Bless the state of Minnesota.

Minnesota Youth in Government

By | Event | No Comments

ymca2This past weekend, Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government (YIG) took over the Capitol building. Minnesota YIG is a youth-led, experiential learning opportunity that involves 1,800 middle-school and high school students each year. It is a nation-wide program, active in nearly 40 states. Across the country almost 25,000 students attend state Youth in Government conferences each year, with 3,300 adult volunteers and YMCA staff serving as advisors. So what did our young people do for the last four days?
• Joined youth leaders from around the state to debate issues and topics of the day
• Listened to delegates with different experiences from around the state.
• Researched public issues and become aware of local, state, national and international concerns.
• Accepted civic responsibilities in various leadership roles.
• Participated in the decision-making process through the bill making process from committees to the House and Senate.
Minnesota is among the top programs, nationally, in terms of quality and number of students. 60% of participants and 55% of youth program leaders are girls. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of all eligible students return the next year.

Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government builds a sense of responsibility and passion for issues, the desire to make a difference, citizenship skills, and values in the lives of teens. Ultimately, Youth in Government programs help mold character in students with a strong focus on leadership development and citizenship-building.

Congratulations to Northfield advisors Mark Thornton and Northfield YMCA director Virginia Kaczmarek and the nearly 20 Northfield students involved in the program.