Sunday, January 24, 2010

SD-26 : Can Dick Day Speak For Mike Parry

Dick Day is on the airwaves warning of “wild things that your hear in the final days of a campaign”.
It’s a good warning … and the reason that the best statements are the ones that include the “tag line” ---
I approve this message.
So, should we listen to the words of candidate Mike Parry or Dick Day who is speaking in a message paid for by the Republican Party of Minnesota ?

Republican Mike Parry has a straightforward solution for the projected budget shortfalls — cut spending by 15 percent. That’s about $5 billion in a $34 billion two-year budget. Parry would exempt only two relatively small sections of the state budget — veterans benefits and public safety programs. According to Parry, every other part of the budget must be cut — even property tax credits and other favored line items that directly reduce people’s property taxes.

Yet, Dick Day is on the radio proclaiming that Mike Parry will fight for Senors and Nursing Home funding.

Should voters believe the candidate or the political party that wants to retain the seat ?

What we do know is that based on past history, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has been known to side with Parry’s concept of cutting spending in lieu of raising taxes. In 2004, Pawlenty proposed saving the state about $6.3 million on its payments to nursing homes. And as the Pioneer Press reported on Pawlenty’s recent unallotment “With more than a quarter of nursing homes in financial jeopardy, the withdrawal of rate increases may force some to close and reduce access for seniors. Rate adjustments to compensate for inflation already had been eliminated for 2011, but Pawlenty pushed the schedule up one year. Similarly, the state budget already capped personal care aides, or PCAs, at no more than 310 hours of work per month. Pawlenty would cut that to 275 hours.

In Minnesota, nursing home residents are the true face of government assistance programs. Medicaid nursing home residents comprise over 59% of the typical nursing home’s clients. Medicaid and Medicare comprise nearly 68% of nursing home resident days and are paid for by the State of Minnesota and the Federal Government. In effect, every cut has a triple whammy to nursing homes as every cut in state reimbursement will also mean a similar reduction in federal matching dollars, as well as reimbursements from private insurance plans. The future viability of the nursing home industry is severely impacted by votes that Parry could make.

Fortunately not all seniors live in nursing homes. However, remember Parry’s opinion on property tax credits. Those that own their own homes may be affected in the future --- but for those seniors that rent, they have already felt the cut. The Renter’s Property Tax Credit provides tax relief to low- and moderate-income households whose property taxes are high in relation to their income. Governor Pawlenty used his unallotment procedure to eliminate funding for this program. In Steele and Waseca counties approximately 2600 seniors and persons with disabilities received the Renters’ Credit for tax year 2006 – with an average credit of $601.

Voters should heed Dick Day’s warning … there are “wild things that your hear in the final days of a campaign” so remember Mike Parry’s plans … not Day’s proclamation that Parry will work for seniors … or for that matter middle class taxpayers. Parry and Pawlenty are not a good team for Minnesota.

Conversely, Parry’s competitor Jason Engbrecht realizes that spending cuts need to be part of the conversation but it is not possible to reduce spending alone without impact our senior citizens.

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