By Rep. Ron Kresha, Guest Columnist
As your representative, I am proud to support reforms and increased funding for our long-term care facilities, particularly in Greater Minnesota. I have long stood for legislation supporting families. That’s why I’m proud to join a bipartisan coalition in support of “The 5 Percent Campaign.”
The 5 Percent Campaign is an effort to provide a long overdue and much-needed increase to those who care for our most vulnerable citizens. The average wage of a long-term care worker is near the federal poverty line, and an increase is needed to encourage more Minnesotans to pursue and stay in careers in long-term care.
Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, are the residents of our long-term care communities. A stable and committed workforce is imperative if we want quality care for our most vulnerable citizens in long-term care facilities. These residents have given so much, and it is only right to step up and maintain their quality of care.
I believe a 5 percent increase would do just that, and would be a good first step to underscore our commitment to solving the “care gap” that exists in Greater Minnesota among our long-term care facilities.
As baby boomers continue to age, it’s estimated the number of people receiving disability services will rise to 83,000 by 2017 alone. Unfortunately, many facilities face high staff turnover, or are underfunded and at risk to close their doors in the next five years.
With recent news of a $1 billion budget surplus and an improved economy, we have the opportunity to have this serious conversation. Many long-term care workers haven’t seen a raise in six or seven years, even as prices have risen during the recession.
In 2013-2014, I supported multiple amendments reallocating parts of the state budget to give a small increase to our long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, those amendments were rejected, and long-term care workers were pushed aside in favor of wasteful spending like a $90 million new Senate office building, bailouts for the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and more.
The 5 Percent Campaign enjoys bipartisan support, and I will continue working with any legislator of any party to go line-by-line through our nearly $40 billion budget to find the mere $86 million necessary to give our long-term care facilities the increase they deserve.
Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, represents House District 9B, which includes Morrison County.