This is unfortunate news for all Minnesotans. While we understand and support a fast resolution to the state government shutdown and the current political stalemate, securitizing Minnesota’s tobacco settlement funds and borrowing from K-12 education is not an acceptable solution when in fact there is another option to help relieve the budget pressures. A $1.50 increase in the price of tobacco would raise $400 million over the biennium without sacrificing the incredible progress we’ve made to counter tobacco’s influence in Minnesota.
Legislators will be finalizing the budget bills over the weekend and early next week to fit within the “framework” they have agreed upon. The Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) will be part of this final negotiation. SHIP was established as part of Minnesota’s 2008 health care reform law. This forward-thinking investment promotes healthier behaviors and reduces health care costs over the long term by tackling obesity and tobacco use at the local community level. As the Legislature and Governor negotiate the final details of their deal over the weekend and early next week, we ask you to contact lawmakers and tell them:
- you support increasing the price of tobacco as a partial solution to relieving the budget pressures; and
- you urge them to fund the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) to save lives and reduce health care costs.
Tell your lawmakers and the Governor that increasing the price of tobacco is a more fiscally responsible way to address our budget problems and funding prevention is the smart strategy to reduce health care costs over the long term.
Take action today, your voice matters!