Senator Kent Eken Says Better Wages for Workers Will Protect Seniors in Nursing Homes, Long-Term Care Facilities
Eken Proposes Constitutional Amendment to Create Dedicated Fund for Long-Term Care Services by Closing Tax Loophole
St. Paul, Minn. – Senator Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley) today thanked Governor Mark Dayton for releasing new bipartisan proposals to protect the health, safety, and dignity of Minnesota seniors and vulnerable adults. Sen. Eken is a co-author of the proposal (Senate File 3088).
“Enhanced oversight and more effective regulation have dominated the conversation when it comes to the heartbreaking and widely reported stories of elder abuse. While these are both key factors in addressing this problem, this cannot be the sole solution” said Sen. Eken. “What’s missing from the conversation are the wages we pay those who care for our parents, grandparents, and loved ones.”
As the Ranking Member of the Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee, Sen. Eken is the chief author of a proposed constitutional amendment (Senate File 1548) that would generate approximately $1 billion annually to provide high-quality care in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. A dedicated fund is needed more than ever as Minnesota faces an increasingly aging population due to Baby Boomer retirements. Sen. Eken’s proposed constitutional amendment generates new revenue by closing a tax loophole that allows the richest four percent of Minnesotans to avoid paying Social Security taxes on annual income above $118,500. Ninety-six percent of Minnesotans would see no change in their income taxes.
“Turnover in this industry is nearing 40 percent because the workforce can’t afford to meet basic needs like housing, healthcare, and education. This, along with low staffing levels, has contributed to the problem of elder abuse because it is becoming more difficult to attract and keep the high-quality and dedicated staff those in long-term care deserve,” said Sen. Eken. “It’s time to compensate nursing home and long-term care workers at a rate that reflects the important and difficult nature of the job they are performing. To that end, I believe creating a dedicated fund to pay for our growing long-term care costs is the best path forward.”
If approved by the Legislature, the proposed constitutional amendment authored by Sen. Eken would appear on the ballot as follows:
“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to dedicate funding to long-term care for
seniors and people with disabilities? This care will be funded by closing a tax loophole for
a small group of wealthy individuals. Currently, individual income above $118,500 is exempt
from the tax which supports Social Security. Only the top 4% of income earners receive
this special treatment. Everyone else is required to pay this tax on all of their earned income.
Closing the loophole, and treating the top 4% the same as everyone else, will fund the care
needed to help our most vulnerable citizens.