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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

MAK on Education: Critique of Opponents OK, But Actions Lacking

Category: Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Posted: 07/25/10 08:57

by Dave Mindeman

I can understand that Margaret Anderson Kelliher would be sharpening the discussion as we approach the primary, but I am not sure that for her, education funding is the right topic.

She criticizes Matt Entenza regarding his plan to end No Child Left Behind....and although we are all concerned about losing the Federal dollars involved, there is no question that because of the way it has been implemented, it is costing schools to keep it going.

And with regards to Dayton, the funding without fixing it argument is also a concern. The formula has been debated for some time and does need reform.

But Kelliher's criticism, although valid, come from a person who has had opportunities to deal with both problems but has done virtually nothing about them.

For most of her tenure as Speaker, she has criticized Gov. Pawlenty's approach to Minnesota education, and rightly so, but in the end, has ratified all the shifts and sleight of hand that has highlighted his methods.

She hasn't done anything to fix the formula (although she has been the one in the best position to offer changes) and certainly can't do anything about reforming NCLB because it is a Federal program.

I'm not criticizing what MAK is saying here -- it needs to be said. But the critique is disingenuous unless you can offer a fix or a better approach.

When it comes to education, MAK says the right things, but the real proof is in the doing.....and I question her record on that.
comments (2) permalink

MAK Stimulus Package Is the Right Move at the Right Time

Category: Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Posted: 07/17/10 21:34

by Dave Mindeman

When we talk about the economy the obvious issue is how to create more jobs. That's what is needed and every policy discussion needs to work toward that end. Last year, at the Federal level, President Obama outlined his stimulus package that had jobs at the heart of his intended purpose, but he didn't get any GOP support. None... as they criticized its size and scope.

But Obama also received some criticism from an unexpected source. Paul Krugman, Nobel economist and liberal thinker, said that Obama's plan was doomed to fail. His criticism? Not big enough and too many tax cuts.

Yes, that's right....TOO MANY TAX CUTS.

I bring this up because Margaret Anderson Kelliher is proposing an economic leveraging proposal which is bold and sorely needed.

A $2 billion bonding proposal may seem like government spending run amuck (and you can pretty much rest assured that the GOP will characterize it that way), but really it is the absolute right plan at the right time.

The caveat that I would be concerned about is that this proposal has to absolutely fund large scale infrastructure and capital projects. We have to skip the local, small scale ideas that can help target local economies but won't build up the state economic numbers on the whole.

MAK's idea is simple. Borrow the money and crank up the economic engine that moves our own state stimulus package...sans tax cuts, thank you. And as the major infrastructure repair moves along, the infusion of jobs and money will stimulate economic activity that can, in return, pay the money back and stabilize economic activity.

There is some key general components developing for Minnesota Democratic policy that could move us forward:

1) Opt in to the early Fed Health Plan which will fund and fix several state health programs. (all DFL candidates agree).

2) A Minnesota branded stimulus package as MAK suggests. (How will Dayton and Entenza react?)

3) A tax fairness policy that will bring in some needed revenue from our wealthier citizens. We can argue about what income threshold that should encompass, but I also think the tax increase should have a sunset provision (make it temporary) so that we can phase it out as our economic situation improves. (All three have indicated some change here, but there are differences on amounts).

4) Make certain that education funding and shifts are repaid and guaranteed. (I think they are all in agreement here as well).

5) Property tax relief coupled with home purchase incentives and mortgage help or restructuring. (Still waiting for specific proposals on this.)

At some point, when warranted, we should also add some middle class tax cuts, but not before we are ready this time.

Of late, Kelliher is the one who has become the idea person in the Democratic field. It would be good to hear how the others will respond to this particular proposal as well.

We are beginning to get somewhere.
comments (4) permalink

Kelliher Questioned by EmmerTruth & Poligraph - They're WRONG

Category: Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Posted: 07/01/10 21:05

by Dave Mindeman

OK, I'm going to try to stop some spinning and sift through some number crunching and get to the chase about something.

Margaret Kelliher has been questioned on her assertion that an early opt into Medicaid via the new Federal Health Plan will get us a 7-1 dollar return to help Minnesota health care.

Two entities have questioned that....

1. EmmerTruth

Of course, the obvious one. So let's hear the argument:

According to Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), the state will save $430 million in the general fund over the next three years by not early-enrolling in Medicaid.

The folks using this talking point appear to get their numbers from simply dividing $189 million (new money from the state) into the $1.4 billion expected from the federal government in matching funds. This is extremely misleading because they fail to mention the state also has to pay $1.2 billion in order to get the federal match.

At best, early enrollment could bring $1 in federal funds for every $1 the state spends to provide health care for the people enrolled in Medicaid. But since MMB projects significant growth in these programs due to the generous new benefits, it will actually cost the state a lot more ? almost half a billion dollars more over three years.

First of all, if you have no intention of paying for something extra is it really a savings? Since Emmer is not going to opt into the Federal program how can he claim to be saving the state that money? If he opts in, he gets Federal dollars. If he doesn't opt in he gets nothing and spends nothing... well, there's the rub.

The whole idea for the early enrollment is to do two things. #1) We FIX GAMC. Yes, I mean really fix it. Emmer would let this bogus current program continue. The one that has everyone in GAMC required to get services at the 4 hospitals that have signed up. Four! For the entire state! Those people are not really covered -- they are dumped. Yes, Emmer, will save money by continuing that program the way it has been set up by this "compromise plan" with Pawlenty....but does it solve the problem. Hell no. #2) The early enrollment folds other programs for the poor into one health care system. It brings in others who are not insured now. And expands coverage for all. Isn't this our goal?

Now, granted, we will continue to pay $1.2 billion in state funds to match the services. Money we have already budgeted to back the current methods of coverage. It is not NEW spending. But with the additional $189 million, we get the new $1.4 billion to really fix and cover Minnesota health care.

So, yes, Kelliher is correct -- we get a 7-1 return. But there is a second entity examining that claim.

2. Poligraph with MPR.

Alright. They pick up a few more of the pertinent facts but the final analysis comes up with a wishy-washy, "Inconclusive". Their evidence as they call it?

Kelliher wants to shift people who get health insurance from two state programs--General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) and MinnesotaCare--into Medical Assistance (MA).

The state and federal governments split the cost of MA. The other two programs don't get any federal funding.

The new federal health care law expands Medicaid coverage to low-income people who don't have insurance now--the same kind of people the state now pays to cover under GAMC and MinnesotaCare - and requires the federal government to match state spending.

For Minnesota, this means shifting patients from GAMC and MinnesotaCare into MA, effectively dissolving most of the two programs that would otherwise cost the state about $1.2 billion over the next three years.

The shift also translates into $1.4 billion in federal dollars. Because the state will have to match federal Medicaid money it will still have to spend the $1.2 billion, plus another $188 million.

The reason the cost goes from $1.2 billion to a combined state and federal total of $2.8 billion is because MA would cover many more people than the two state programs do now and provide enhanced benefits. Under the new federal law all states will have to expand Medicaid in 2014.

OK. GAMC and MinnesotaCare are rolled into Medical Assistance. Everybody under one umbrella. We are covering them now. We are spending money on them now. The difference would be that we would get matching Federal funds. We could cover more people and in the case of GAMC get full and complete coverage.

And here is something else to consider. Has it occurred to anyone that if we roll these programs under one umbrella that we might be able to save some administrative costs? I'm not sure if we will still have to meet income and asset standards the same way, but if they all end up with standards for MA, wouldn't it save on staff and paperwork?

So, if we are going to pay anyway, and if we can attain a goal of covering more people, and if we can fix a program that is already in trouble, and put a process in place that we will be doing anyway in 2014......Why the heck not?

The only things inconclusive here are the reasons for NOT doing it.
comments (1) permalink
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