Quote of the Week: “Thank you Senator Jensen for making an addition to the conversation that is not consequential!” Senator Michelle Benson
Minnesota’s Budget Surplus Grows
The $1.3 billion budget surplus announced in November has grown to $1.5 billion in the budget forecast released on Thursday. Governor Tim Walz said he wants to put $491 million of the surplus into the state’s “rainy day fund” to keep it at $2.4 billion. He also wants to use some of the surplus to pay the interest on proposed $2 billion bonding bill. House DFLers, led by Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park), want to use a sizable portion of the surplus for a one-time investment in early childhood education and greater subsidies for child care. Republicans said instead of new spending, the surplus should be used for a $1 billion tax cut, which would include exempting Social Security income from personal income taxes and allowing farmers and small businesses to deduct the entire cost of equipment purchases up front, which would conform with federal tax law. Given the divided Legislature, the session is likely to end up with both new spending and tax cuts. The question mark hanging over the discussion is how Minnesota’s economy will be affected by the coronavirus. If the disease spreads much more quickly in the U.S. in the coming weeks, there is likely to be greater support for saving – rather than spending – the surplus.
NAIFA Bill Introduced in Senate
Legislation to help applicants for life, disability and long-term care policies complete the application process in a timely manner was introduced in the Minnesota State Senate this week. S.F. 3488 (Dahms, Gazelka, Sparks, Wiklund) requires health care providers to release medical records within 15 days when a patient’s medical records are requested by them or their representative. Many NAIFA-Minnesota members are finding application windows closing before underwriters can obtain an applicant’s medical records, meaning lost coverage for applicants and lost commissions for agents. The introduction of the bill in the Senate follows the introduction of the bill in the House last week. NAIFA-Minnesota appreciates Senator Dahms introducing the bill and also the support of his coauthors, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa), Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin) and Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington). The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee soon.