By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just one week from today is the deadline for the Minnesota Legislature to complete all budget bills. And while talks continued this afternoon between the Governor and top legislative leaders the two sides remain far apart.

Republicans came up with a new offer Monday afternoon with $100 million in increased spending but remaining opposed to new taxes. Gov. Tim Walz is working on a counter offer, while the Democratic House Speaker called the GOP offer woefully inadequate.

If there is no agreement by next Monday the legislature will have to go into special session to avoid a state government shutdown July 1. That also means uncertainties for key bills, including a measure to help with the skyrocketing cost of insulin.

The bill is called the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act. Smith died in 2017 at age 26 because he was rationing his life-saving insulin. He couldn’t afford a $1,300 refill.

His mother Nicole Smith Holt appeared with other moms at the State Capitol to urge the passage of the bill.

The House measure of the Alec Smith bill would provide a 90-day supply of emergency insulin and would make more individuals eligible than the Senate bill, which would provide a 30-day supply.

Lija Greenseid, of St. Paul, says her 13-year-old daughter Arija’s insulin has cost as much as $700 a month. She just returned with some of the other mothers from an insulin-buying trip to Canada.

“Our group spent a total of $1,265 on insulin at the Canadian pharmacy. If we had paid retail cost here in the United States, it would have cost over $12,000 for the same insulin, so we saved over $11,000 last weekend by traveling to Canada,” she said. “As a mom I will do whatever it takes to make sure my daughter has what it takes to stay alive.”

Shari Wiltrout, of Cambridge, is a mother to 13-year-old twins Evelyn and Maraya, who both need insulin for their type 1 diabetes.

“For one of my daughters it costs $1,600 a month to pay for her insulin, which, if you remember what Lija said, is more than all the adults spent in Canada for three months supplies.”

These mothers say they are one job loss or one emergency expense away from not being able to afford their children’s insulin. That is why they want the Conference Committee to approve the emergency measure.

Esme Murphy

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