Hello from the State Capitol,
With budget targets in place, spending priorities are now being debated in each of our House finance committees. One area that should be near the top of the priority list, but isn’t, is our nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
NURSING HOME CRISIS REQUIRES LEGISLATIVE ACTION
When you have 1.3 million Minnesotans who are over the age of 65, and a shortage of 53,000 workers in the long-term care industry, your state has a problem. In fact, Minnesota has a crisis on its hands.
Lawmakers were told at a recent committee hearing that in the month of October, 11,000 people were turned away from nursing homes, mainly due to lack of staff. The inability to fully staff our nursing homes then creates unwanted stress on our hospitals, as nearly 20% of their bed space is being taken up by people who should be recovering in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
On Thursday, caregivers, impacted residents, and long-term care advocates rallied at the State Capitol to bring attention to this crisis. It’s pretty disappointing that with an $18 billion surplus, legislative leadership is not prioritizing senior citizens and helping them solve this crisis.
On another note, I have previously discussed how numerous area seniors have been facing dramatically rising rent rates. A proposal, HF 2676, is still alive this session that would prevent rent from increasing by more than 5% over a 12 month period.
K-12 EDUCATION BILL: LOTS OF NEW MONEY, LOTS OF UNFUNDED MANDATES
Good news to report for Hastings schools as the district’s food service workers have ended their strike and are headed back to work. I’m very pleased both sides went back to the table and worked out a solution.
As many of you know, I serve on the Minnesota House K-12 Education Finance Committee. This week the committee unveiled its comprehensive spending proposal for the upcoming budget cycle. It has historic amounts of money going into K-12, which is great news. Yet, there are plenty of school districts and educators who are not excited with the proposal as it also includes more than 60 new mandates that will be imposed on our schools. Despite the record amounts of money, they are concerned the mandates will chew up the majority of this historic investment, and they might not be any better off than they were before.
I also believe the bill falls short in prioritizing the core functions of learning – such as reading and math – where we have seen student test scores decline.
So, while the bill includes a lot of money, it’s not great for those of us who are interested in seeing our kids get a greater overall education.
ADDRESSING HASTINGS WATER QUALITY ISSUES
The City of Hastings is expected to need assistance with per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) mitigation. This is why I have authored legislation that would allocate $61 million in state bonding proceeds to retrofit 6 water towers with filtration needed to remove PFAs. I’m also looking at crafting legislation that would create a fund to assist rural residents dealing with the same issue and can utilize a reverse osmosis system. Much is made about water quality in the city, but the reality is many in the rural areas are also drinking out of the same contaminated aquifer. These people could use some state attention as well.
Have a good weekend,