Pawlenty vows not to raid surplus
MINNEAPOLIS, January 10, 2008 - Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Monday that he doesn’t intend to use the projected surplus in the Health Care Access Fund to balance the budget during the 2008 Legislative Session.
Pawlenty made the comment January 6 at a fundraising event for his campaign fund at O’Gara’s Bar and Grille in St. Paul.
The MMA has been concerned that since the state faces a projected $373 million budget shortfall, it will balance the budget by tapping the surplus in the Health Care Access Fund, which is projected to be $250 million in 2008 and $300 million in 2009.
“We were pleased to hear him commit to not using the surplus to balance the budget,” said Dave Renner, MMA director of state and federal legislation, who attended the fund raiser as a representative of MEDPAC, the MMA’s political arm.
In December, MMA President James J. Dehen, Jr., M.D., sent Pawlenty a letter on behalf of the MMA asking him not to use money from the Health Care Access Fund (HCAF) to fix the budget.
Pawlenty also said he was considering reducing the 2 percent provider tax, which funds the HCAF, by 0.5 percent, according to Renner.
Pawlenty was asked about the surplus after making some comments about the prospect of health care reform moving forward at the Capitol this year.
There is a willingness among both Republicans and DFLers to reform the health care system, Pawlenty said, but he’s concerned that if either party reaches too far in their proposals, gridlock will be the result, according to Renner.
“The likely friction point in the reform debate this session will occur between the goals of expanding health care access and controlling health care costs,” Renner said.