Letter: Use budget surplus to ensure the best care

Published 7:50 am Thursday, April 27, 2017

The need is real, the people are real, and the time is now! I know many have heard the following talking points a lot lately: staff shortage and the over $1 billion budget surplus. Home & Community–Based Services (HCBS) allow people with intellectual and physical disabilities to receive services to meet their needs. HCBS direct care workers in Minnesota have an average wage of $12.32. Many earn much less in greater Minnesota areas such as Austin.

These wages are directly tied to state reimbursement rates set by lawmakers and have not kept up with the decade’s rising costs. The low wages have resulted in more than 8,700 unfilled HCBS jobs in Minnesota.

HCBS providers are some of the biggest employers in Greater Minnesota. We’re asking people to support the Best Life Alliance campaign which calls for a 4 percent wage increase for 80,000 direct care workers statewide. Please contact your legislators and express your support for organizations like Cedar Valley Services Inc. who employs over 200 staff and nearly 600 people with disabilities in Austin, Albert Lea, Owatonna and surrounding areas. The budget surplus offers a chance to invest without needing to shift funds or raise revenue. Not only is this about assuring the best care for these individuals but also taking care of their caregivers.

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Thank you for your support!

Taggert Medgaarden

Management Services Director of Cedar Valley Services Inc