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Governor's Budget Fills Deficit, But Depletes State Health Care Access

January 28, 2009

St. Paul, MN - Human services advocates say Governor Tim Pawlenty's spartan state budget proposal will dump at least 65,000 residents out of state-subsidized health care. Pawlenty presented his two-year budget Tuesday, filling a nearly five billion dollar hole with accounting shifts, aid cuts to cities, and spending decreases on almost all fronts. The budget proposes no additional taxes and also dips into the state's health care access plan.

Pawlenty says it's a strategic proposal that will spur job growth and boost public education. But Brian Rushe with the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition calls the budget nothing less than "inhumane".

"If ever there was a time to look at health care reform, this is it, because what was once a broken system would under the governor's proposal be turned into rubble."

Rushe, whose organization promotes affordable health care, says the governor's plan increases the economic pain for the residents who are already hurting the most - without even considering the option of raising tax revenue to offset spending cuts.

He says dropping healthcare for residents is more costly in the end because people continue to require medical help whether or not they're covered.

"They will no longer have insurance. They will delay care. They will become more expensive when they do get sick."

Pawlenty's budget of nearly 34 billion dollars cuts more than two percent from the current spending plan. It increases spending for K-12 education and includes tax cuts and a boost for the state's reserve account.

Art Hughes, Public News Service - MN