The plan to help health insurance companies with high-cost claims is really expensive.
The plan legislators have been debating is known as reinsurance. The money --$384 million in the House plan and $600 million in the Senate version-- is designed to prop up and stabilized the individual insurance market, which serves about 250,000 people in the state who don't get their health insurance through their employer or a public program.
Critics of the Republican-backed bills say there's no guarantee reinsurance would extend coverage across the state or lower costs.
"There's really no guarantee that it will reduce premium rates for the people in the individual market," said Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul.
One reason it's so expensive is because some people who buy insurance on the individual market have serious health problems.
The Affordable Care Act prevents health insurers from denying insurance to people with previous health problems. The law also abolished an earlier program that created a high-risk pool known as the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association that helped people who couldn't get traditional insurance. Those people are now buying insurance along with others on the individual market.
Sen. Jim Abeler. R-Anoka, said it's important that these high-risk patients get the coverage they need from insurers who should have their clients best interest in mind.
"I want them to find their mission and their compassion for Minnesota. That's the way healthcare works," said Abeler.
Would a public option help?
Democrats proposed a new option that would allow people to buy into the MinnesotaCare program, which for years has offered people subsidies on a sliding scale to help them buy insurance. They say such a public option might bring down costs.
But Republicans rejected that idea, arguing that reimbursements to hospitals for services would be too low. That would cause trouble for hospitals in rural Minnesota especially "This is going to be a continuing problem, not just for Minnesota," said Murphy, who said the state might be able to boost reimbursement rates and still save money with a public option compared to reinsurance.
Is it time to drain the swamp on legislative pay?
Brian LeClair, a former state senator who was active in the Minnesota Trump for president campaign says legislators should not take the $13,000 pay increase an independent council came up with last week.
"There are many other pressing needs in the state of Minnesota that we need to fund first," said LeClair.
The council was formed after Minnesotans voted overwhelmingly in November for a constitutional amendment to take control over their pay away from state legislators.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said this week he'll block the raise, but Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said it's time to accept the council's action and move on.
Political reporter Brian Bakst said it's likely to end up in court.
Big tax cut plans as budget starts to come into focus.
Senate Republicans put out an outline of a plan to cut state taxes by $900 million.
"[They] did not give a lot of detail," said MPR News reporter Tim Pugmire.
A large chunk of the proposal would be a cut on the lowest tier of income tax. This would impact 80 percent of tax payers.
The plan also included a phase out of taxes on Social Security income, changes to statewide business property tax, and credits for college students paying off loans.
House Republicans are expected to outline their plans within the next few days.