Gov. Walz seeks $40 million for hospital staffing amid surge

Published 1:49 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS  — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is seeking to use $40 million in federal funding to support emergency staffing at hospitals ahead of an anticipated surge in omicron cases that is already straining the state’s hospital capacity.

Walz on Wednesday announced his request for money to fund the hiring of nurses to work 60 hours per week for 60 days at hospitals experiencing shortages due to the virus. The request follows another $40 million Walz wants to put toward expanding testing — both of which come out of $500 million in American Rescue Plan state funds for immediate COVID-19 response.

The governor submitted the request to the Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission, a bipartisan group of legislative leaders from both chambers that reviews requests from the state’s COVID-19 fund that top $1 million. Legislative leaders did not immediately respond to messages on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, of Winona, sent a letter to Walz and legislative leaders saying Senate Republicans are ready to pass two proposals that would approve a licensing agreement for out-of-state nurses and streamline regulations for hiring at medical facilities, should the governor call a special session before the start of the regular legislative session on Jan. 31.