A key ritual of the legislative calendar took place last Wednesday: the February state budget forecast which determines the fiscal situation for the new legislative session. After last year's budget bills, I urged caution in this forum. I know "be careful" is not an exciting message, and it wasn't a message my Republican colleagues embraced in the last session. But with our modest $329 million budget surplus, the legislature needs to be cautious in 2018, and focus on improving the basics of government for middle-class families.
The first bill passed during the last Minnesota legislative session was designed to deliver health insurance premium relief to Minnesotans struggling to pay for their coverage. While I certainly shared the goal of delivering relief to consumers facing soaring premiums, I was strongly opposed to one provision that would significantly change how HMOs operate in Minnesota, permitting them to become for-profit after decades as nonprofits. It was for this reason that I voted against the bill.