It is that time of year where we ask you to contact your legislators on behalf of the staff and the people we serve here at Northeast Residence. I know we ask this a lot and I also know some of you do contact your legislators and I also know for many reasons some of you do not. If you have already contacted them, please do so again. If you have not already contacted them, please do so, it is really important.
The truth is that we all need to contact our legislators, it is our way of speaking up and letting our voice be known. Two years ago in 2014, the 5% Campaign through a very large grassroots and lobbying effort was able to successfully pass a rate increase that we at NER were able to pass on to our staff as wage increases. Fast forward to 2016 – today, the 5% Campaign is now known as The Best Life Alliance and is once again asking for a 5% rate increase.
In 2014, the legislature did increase rates. In 2016, the fate of this increase is less certain at this time. The status of this 5% increase is as follows as reported by the Best Life Alliance. “The Minnesota House and Senate each passed their Health and Human Services spending bills. The House proposal includes a one-time, 5% rate increase for Home & Community-Based Services that is based on savings gathered from MNSure. Unfortunately the Senate did not include an increase.
Ideally a rate increase would be in the Senate bill as well, but we are grateful that the 5% increase continues to be part of discussions as we approach the next step which is the conference committee. (The conference committee is made up of 3-5 appointed members from both the House and Senate who will work on reconciling differences in bills passed by each body and determine what will move ahead.)
We will continue to advocate on behalf of a 5% rate increase and urge the House, Senate and Governor to make this a priority in 2016. Your voice will be needed, so please consider taking action. A simple letter or e-mail to your legislators may be the tipping point for them to include an increase in the final budget. Telling them how staff turnover impacts you and your loved one in real life is what they need to hear.” Here is the link to know who represents you and their contact information.
For our part, I want you to know what we at NER are doing…
On April 5, 2016, the NER Advocacy Committee went to the Minnesota State Capitol to advocate on behalf of a 5% increase.
There was a group of NER Staff and Volunteers that went to visit with Senator Scalze, Representative Fisher, Representative Wills, Senator Chamberlain, Representative Lillie, Senator Wiger, Representative Isaacson and a member of Representative Dean’s staff.
I can say without a doubt all legislators were very welcoming and engaging in the conversation. They expressed the support for the work that we do, and they seem to understand our concerns and all are willing to offer support and even some are authors on the legislation. Each of them told us there are a lot of priorities and decisions will be made “later” in the session.
At this time, we have reached “later” in the session, and the positions reported above are not looking terribly promising for an on-going rate increase. The best we have that is being considered is a one-time increase. We appreciate that and will certainly be grateful, but we really need a 5% increase that is on-going.
We agreed to stay in touch with each of the legislators and we intend to get each of them engaged in our different events where we gather as NER such as the Bon Fire, Fundraising events, and even the Luau.
I have included points in this newsletter to get you started on writing to your legislators. Remember to tell your story, even if you have already done this, please do so again. If they continue to hear from us, perhaps they will continue to put the services we provide and your loved ones received at the top of the list – if not now, in the future. As many of you know, advocating on behalf of the people we care for is a never ending battle and legislative advocacy is no exception – meaning, writing once is just as important as writing 5 (or more) times.
Thank you for your efforts.
Heidi Holste, Executive Director
651-765-0217 extension 13