Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Boost to local public health grants could support prevention efforts across state

Additional funding for local public health grants could help provide the resources and flexibility needed to improve the lives of Minnesotans through prevention-based, community-specific initiatives.

“The field of public health is about investing in prevention, which can sometimes take a backseat to the issue of the day,” Graham Briggs, Olmsted County Public Health director and a representative of the Local Public Health Association of Minnesota, told the House Health Finance and Policy Committee Wednesday.

Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL-St. Cloud) sponsors HF428, which would appropriate an additional $20 million in both fiscal years 2022 and 2023 from the General Fund for local public health grants.

It was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill. There is no Senate companion.

The current General Fund base for local public health grants is almost $21.67 million annually, according to nonpartisan House fiscal staff.

This provides funding for community health boards across the state to perform a range of activities that include:

  • investigating and preventing the spread of infectious diseases;
  • maintaining the state’s public health infrastructure and ensuring access;
  • promoting healthy behaviors and supporting preventative health initiatives;
  • tracking and identifying local risk factors ranging from salmonella outbreaks to obesity;
  • responding to environmental health hazards;
  • preparing for and responding to natural disasters; and
  • addressing health concerns at a local level with targeted strategies.

“Unfortunately, over the last 15 years, we have witnessed a slow crumbling of our local public health infrastructure,” Briggs said.

Most community health boards are largely funded by local levies, but receive federal and state funding as well. Cuts and a failure to keep up with inflation have hampered these boards’ ability to perform their work and keep up with state mandates, much less address emerging problems, Wolgamott said.

“Flexible funding is crucial,” as many state mandates are not well supported by other grants, Briggs said.

Existing law determines the grant amount awarded to each community health board and requires at least a 75% local match.

Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) questioned the helpfulness of this requirement, pointing out that communities in the most need of additional funding are likely the ones to have the most trouble securing a large local match.

As has been seen when communities rely on local levies for education funding, disparities can be reinforced when some communities can afford to provide generous local funding, while others cannot, said Rep. Liz Reyer (DFL-Eagan).

“Looking at statewide funding is a good step,” she said.

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

House passes tax package that includes rebate checks, $1 billion in new revenues
Rep. Aisha Gomez and House Majority Leader Jamie Long talk during a break in the May 20 debate on HF1938, the tax finance and policy bill. (Photo by Catherine Davis) Is it the largest tax cut in Minnesota history? Or the biggest tax hike the state has ever experienced? Could it be both? That’s the crux of the debate about the conference ...
House passes finalized cannabis legalization bill, sends it to Senate
A supporter of cannabis legalization demonstrates in front of the Capitol in 2021. The House repassed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, as amended in conference committee, May 18 and sent HF100 to the Senate. (House Photography file photo) The House gave the green light to adult-use recreational cannabis Thursday. “The day has finally arrived. Today is the day that we are going to vote here in the House for th...

Minnesota House on Twitter