Thursday, June 30, 2005

Lights on at the Parks

The most noticeable shutdown of this entire fiasco has been avoided. The Legislature has approved Lights On funding for the State Parks system.
The House voted 93-41 for the bill, which had passed the Senate 57-6 hours earlier. Gov. Tim Pawlenty was expected to sign it, possibly using the line-item veto to strip out some spending provisions.

Lawmakers sought to avoid the most visible fallout from a shutdown — closing the popular state park system on the cusp of its biggest weekend of the year. Park officials said they expect more than 300,000 visitors to the state's 72 parks and recreation areas over the weekend.

"A whole lot of people who made their vacation plans this weekend are watching,'' said Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, the bill's Senate sponsor. "They've got the car loaded and they're wondering if they should leave the driveway.''
This only masks the real dilemma facing the legislature, and a partial government shutdown is inevitable if the two sides refuse to be reasonable with the revenue needed to fund their budgets.

The Racino is back off the table. Both sides agree on a cigarette tax increase, but the Dems we pushing for an additional upper income tax bracket, while the Governor wanted to obtain the funds through gambling. With neither side willing to agree on how to create this additional 300 million in revenues, it means cuts would take place, most noticeably in Health Care benefits for the low income and disadvantaged.
The latest offer would cut eligibility to 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines for childless adults and 200 percent of poverty for adults with children. That's less than the current 175 percent and 225 percent, respectively, but still more generous than Pawlenty's original proposal, which would have barred childless adults from the program altogether and limited adults with children to 190 percent of poverty.

McClung said administration officials were attempting to determine how many people would lose insurance at the newly proposed levels. Estimates for Pawlenty's original budget ranged from 22,000 to 40,000.
Minnesota Nice?!?


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