Expected veto stamped on HHS bill


Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders were expected to continue talks on the omnibus health and human services budget bill after the governor delivered an expected veto.

Sponsored by Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth) and Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls), HF2614*/ SF2337 was passed 82-50 by the House and 47-18 by the Senate Wednesday. Prior to the floor votes, a Pawlenty spokesperson said the governor intended to veto the legislation because it did not do enough to reduce health care spending.

The governor and DFL leadership are also at odds over an early federal health care reform initiative that would garner more than $1 billion in federal funding over the next three years with the help of a state match. Another sticking point: surcharges on hospitals, long-term care facilities and HMOs that would help capture the federal dollars.

At a Thursday press conference, Pawlenty said negotiators were working with a “constructive mindset.” He described the talks as cordial and said Wednesday’s floor votes were key to “letting the step that everybody planned unfold.”

Pawlenty reiterated his intent to reduce spending – “This bill doesn’t really go very far in that regard” – and said the health and human services budget needs to be part of a larger discussion about resolving the fiscal crisis.