Finance committee considers health care worker bonuses

The Senate Finance committee heard a proposal this week to grant hiring and retention bonuses to the state’s long-term care and disability service workers. No action was taken during this hearing as the bill authors determine the bill’s costs, but DFLers made it clear that while bonuses are a helpful start, long-term solutions must be an immediate priority.

Minnesota is facing a workforce crisis in our long-term care and home-and community-based services industry. A lack of nurses, group home workers, personal care assistants, and more is leaving individuals without the support they need and burning out existing staff. This is not a new problem. The Covid-19 pandemic has only highlighted what most have known for years: that Minnesota has been underinvesting in these industries, leaving workers underpaid and with limited benefits. With a $9 billion budget surplus, the state should be able to invest in the solutions workers and families need, like higher base wages, safe working conditions, expanded benefits like paid family leave and earned sick time, and ongoing healthcare or childcare subsidies.

Massive reforms will be necessary to increase wages and create more flexibility and supports for aging populations and people with disabilities. While Senate Republicans are focused on spending the bulk of our budget surplus on tax cuts, DFLers will continue to advocate for long-term investments to make sure individuals have the services they need, and workers are appropriately compensated. (SF 2786)