From: Johanna Rupprecht
Right now, legislative leaders and Governor Tim Walz are negotiating on the state budget. One of the biggest choices they face is whether to keep the two-percent provider tax in place. This tax, enacted through bipartisan leadership in 1992, provides critical funding for our public health care programs, MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. Letting the provider tax end would put health care for 1.2-million Minnesotans at risk. It would also cause a completely avoidable catastrophe by putting a $700-million-a-year hole in the state budget, threatening funding for other needs like agriculture, education, and transportation. It would also keep us from being able to take needed steps forward to improve health care affordability for all Minnesotans.
On April 27, I attended the town hall meeting held in Winona by our District 28 State Senator, Jeremy Miller (R-Winona). There, Senator Miller publicly stated that he was “open-minded” on the provider tax, having heard from many people who support keeping it in place. He seemed to understand the importance of this funding stream. Senator Miller indicated he wanted to make sure there were parameters in place so the fund does go to health care for people who need it and does not get raided for unintended uses.
But earlier this week, State Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) said that keeping the provider tax is off the table completely for his caucus. This stance appears to be based on a commitment to an extreme anti-tax ideology, rather than a focus on what is best for the people of Minnesota. Responsible government means making sure we have adequate public resources to invest in meeting people’s needs, like we have done through the provider tax for 27 years.
Senator Jeremy Miller has a choice to make now: will he put the public good of Minnesotans first, or will he side with his party above all else? Senator Miller has a powerful leadership position as president of the Senate. Is he willing to use this position to tell Majority Leader Gazelka that the provider tax must be kept in place to protect funding for Minnesotans’ health care?