State Senate Republicans tout human services budget bill

Published 8:04 am Wednesday, May 1, 2019

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Senate Republicans said Tuesday that their health and human services budget bill would provide good care for the elderly, the disabled and children who need it while cracking down on fraud and waste.

The bill, which was expected to pass on party lines, also contains language to prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, stating that a fetus at that stage of development is capable of feeling pain. The provision is not expected to survive the end-of-session negotiations with the House Democratic majority, which voted down similar language during the debate on its health and human services budget last week.

As with almost all the budget bills the House and Senate have been working to pass by Wednesday’s deadline, the Senate’s health and human services bill sets up challenging negotiations to reconcile the differences with the House bill. The Senate version is funded with existing revenues, without renewing an expiring tax on health care providers that generates about $700 million a year to help fund health care programs as the House would do.

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Sen. Michelle Benson, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said at a news conference that her bill makes “some tough choices and significant reforms” and “trims” the growth of the Department of Human Services.

Still, the Ham Lake Republican said, it spends $1.6 billion more than the current two-year budget, which runs through June 30.