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Letter: Pay raises needed for those who care for our elderly, developmentally disabled

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I will support legislation that is intended to give nursing homes, group homes and long-term care facilities -- and their employees -- a long-overdue pay raise.

The Democrats are proposing an increase of $3 billion in state spending that will impact every hardworking taxpayer in the Minnesota, yet they want to cut funding to nursing homes and senior living facilities over the next two years. I will not stand for a cut to those who care for our elderly and developmentally disabled. We must do what is right and help our most vulnerable Minnesotans.

I -- as well as a bipartisan group of lawmakers -- were led to believe that nursing homes and long-term care facilities would be given a 5 percent increase this year. Yet the Democratic majority's health and human service bill only provides a 2 percent increase. Losing the 3 percent increase in funding will mean that the nursing homes and senior living facilities will have to find a way to make up the loss in funding in their own budgets, which is particularly hard to do in Greater Minnesota.

I, as well as other rural senators, will push for a real funding increase for nursing homes when a comprehensive health and human services finance proposal is debated on the Senate floor in the next few days. With over 100 nursing homes in serious financial conditions and in danger of closing, the time to act in now.

I want to make sure the state is providing the best resources we can for our facilities caring for our elderly and developmentally disabled. The Democrats are able to spend hundreds of millions of hardworking taxpayer dollars on wasteful projects like snowmaking equipment for a northern ski resort and a $300,000 bathroom at a boat landing, yet they refuse to adequately fund our nursing homes. Our seniors and developmentally disabled deserve better. All Minnesota deserves better.

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