The Legacy bill I authored as chairman of the House Legacy Funding Finance Committee passed the House Thursday.
The bill distributes funding for clean water, arts/cultural heritage, outdoor heritage, and parks and trails, appropriating revenue generated by a constitutional amendment citizens voted to approve in 2008.
In other news, the House passed a Health and Human Services omnibus finance bill this week that will provide funding increases for care facilities in District 18A and throughout the state.
Long-term care is a top priority and the challenges in meeting the ever-increasing demands of our aging society continue to grow. I am pleased this legislation provides more funding for nursing homes and care workers throughout the state. It also shrinks gaps in statewide reimbursement rates that short-change Greater Minnesota facilities and make it difficult for them to remain operational.
BOOST FOR CARE FACILITIES/WORKERS
The House HHS bill implements a statewide reimbursement system that will result in a funding increase for nursing homes, particularly in Greater Minnesota, totaling more than $138 million. In addition, the bill includes $90 million for a one-time, 5-percent cost-of-living adjustment for home and community-based care workers.
According to non-partisan House Research, nursing home facilities in District 18A will receive substantial increases in 2016 under the House Republican proposal, including:
Emmanuel Home, Litchfield: $1.2 million increase (29.3 percent)
Hilltop Health Care Center, Watkins: $324,449 increase (12 percent)
Lakeside Health Care Center, Dassel: $468,604 (19 percent)
Cokato Manor, Cokato: $463,180 (15 percent)
The objective is to ensure we are continuing to provide care to Minnesotans who rely on it without jeopardizing our long-term budget sustainability. Our HHS costs have risen dramatically in recent decades and consume an increasingly larger percentage of our bottom line, now accounting for more than 41 percent of our state's All-Funds spending. This legislation includes measures to bring the rate of HHS spending growth to a more sustainable level, allowing us to also better support other high priorities such as K-12 education and transportation.
The House also passed a tax bill which provides $2 billion in tax relief. One top provision is a new Minnesota personal or dependent tax exemption that could save a middle-class family of four more than $500 over the next two years.
There also are measures to stop taxing Social Security benefits, aid in passing family farms from one generation to the next, assist veterans, provide expanded education deductions and more.
The ag. bill is the last of the finance bills the House is set to discuss as a full body and that should happen soon. Conference committees already have begun working on other budget proposals to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions and prepare them for final passage.
Stay tuned we make our way toward the May 18th date of adjournment in the Legislature. As always, I welcome your feedback.