It’s been a long weekend for legislators as they struggle to finalize a budget deal before midnight tonight.

To bring readers up to speed: legislative leaders and the governor met throughout the day on Saturday and into the night.  The major sticking point in bridging differences has been how to deal with Medical Assistance — to expand to adults without children or not to expand to adults without children?  So far, a deal that would include expanded MA has proved elusive.

In other news, a bill including Aging Services of Minnesota’s provision to implement PACE has been vetoed.  While we initially thought the veto was on the underlying public facilities bill, we later discovered the veto was because of PACE.  Although the Governor, DFLers, and Republicans all like the provision, the Governor wanted to include PACE as part of an overall budget deal because it spends money.  Aging Services advocacy staff worked to ensure PACE is included in any final budget provision, and so far it is still in play.

Early this morning, the House and Senate passed a balanced budget bill they had agreed to between themselves, but not with the governor or either GOP caucus.  The bill ratifies the governor’s unallotments and for HHS took a number of provisions from HF2614, the HHS omnibus budget bill Pawlenty vetoed earlier, including PACE and the 5% EW cut.  And we are happy to report this bill did NOT include the mandatory transitional consultation for HWS!

The bill also includes the early enrollment into MA for adults without children along with scaled-back surcharges for HMOs and hospitals, which Pawlenty previously rejected.

Because this bill wasn’t an agreement with Gov. Pawlenty, and because it includes early MA, he says he will veto it but wants to continue discussions.

At 3 PM today, DFL leaders met with Pawlenty and received the following offer: take early expansion off the table, no additional cuts to HHS beyond the unallotments from 2009, and hope the $408 million in enhanced federal money (FMAP) comes in and be used to balance the remainder of the budget.  If FMAP doesn’t come in, there would be a special session to deal with HHS cuts that would need to result from the lack of FMAP money.

And if it looks familiar, its because it is essentially the governor’s original

This deal is being taken back to the respective legislative caucuses for further discussion.

And that brings us up to speed!

One final note: the Twins beat the Yankees today 6-3.  Let’s hope that’s a good omen for the end of session!

Update: DFLers just made a counter-offer that “would authorize the Governor and the next governor to use executive authority to apply or not apply for early enrollment; this authority would expire in January 2011. The governor would sign both health care bills (HF 3834, and the newly proposed second bill). The FMAP $408M would fall to the bottom line to protect cash flow. Pawlenty’s office is expected to reply to the offer soon.” (http://politicsinminnesota.com/blog/2010/05/dfl-house-and-senate-present-counter-offer/)

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