The Senate Human Services Reform Committee unveiled their budget bill this week, focused on bolstering the disability and long-term care workforce. This bill was moved to the Finance Committee for further consideration.
The bill makes substantial and long-overdue investments in many areas of the caring workforce, offering permanent rate increases for nursing homes, PCAs, home health aides, and more. These increases would help raise wages to retain staff and attract new workers in fields that face crisis-level workforce shortages. Increases in this bill for home and community-based supports for older adults through the Elderly Waiver will also help more Minnesotans live in their homes instead of needing to move to a nursing home. For months, this committee has heard from families who cannot find appropriate care for their loved ones and from overworked and underpaid staff. Increasing wages for direct care workers and expanding services available to individuals living in their home or community settings are critical steps towards stabilizing our disability service and long-term care industry.
While there are many positive items in this bill, two glaring omissions are a lack of any new spending on childcare or homelessness supports. Childcare is the workforce behind the workforce. If the state wants to attract new workers into our direct care professions, increasing access to affordable, high-quality childcare must be addressed. In addition, shortages in affordable housing and expiring federal covid-19 relief dollars are creating an urgent need to support emergency homeless shelters and related services. Senate DFLers will push to ensure these critical sectors receive the funding they need through the negotiation process. (SF 4410)