Hello from the State Capitol,
Work continues to be steady in our House committees; our first committee deadline is three weeks away. A deadline represents the times when a bill must receive action from a committee in order for it to move forward the rest of session. With session ending in mid-May, many of the bills that move forward in the next few weeks will likely be a part of any end of session agreement made between the House and Senate. I will be sure to keep you updated on these as we move forward.
RECORD STATE BUDGET SURPLUS CONTINUES TO GROW
The big news of the week came from Minnesota’s economic experts who now project a $9.3 billion surplus for the 2022-23 legislative biennium. That figure is up $1.5 billion from the already historic $7.7 billion surplus projected in November.
While this is positive economic news from a state government perspective, there are a couple of concerning factors highlighted by our economic experts to keep in mind.
Minnesota continues to see a worker shortage. 107,000 fewer people are working today when compared to the start of the pandemic. That is seriously concerning, especially considering most employers are desperate to hire workers to fill open positions.
Also, when you analyze the $9.3 billion surplus total you will find that half of that amount is due to one-time funding.
Our economic analysts also note that uncertainty due to inflation and geopolitical conflict pose risk to the budget and economic outlook. At first glance at the budget things look great, but we have to balance that with cost-of-living increases on everything from food to gasoline to energy, and whatever fallout occurs in Europe.
While we face a new era of uncertainty, fears that this surplus projection might be a short-term fad are subsiding, and I am cautiously optimistic about our economy during the near future.
ESTABLISHING NURSE LICENSURE COMPACT
In an effort to allow nurses to practice their profession more and address the workforce shortages in health care across Minnesota, I am sponsoring legislation that would create a nurse licensure compact.
Throughout the pandemic we have heard about a lack of nurses being available to staff our hospitals and care facilities. This would be part of a solution to address this crisis.
The plan would allow Minnesota to become part of the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact, which includes 39 other states. The proposal gives nurses the opportunity to be licensed in the nurse’s home state or state of residency (if the state is part of the compact) to practice in other member states.
The legislation would also benefit patients, particularly those who are seeking care in Minnesota from a neighboring state.
If someone from Flandreau travels to Pipestone for treatment, it can be problematic for nurses who need to call back with a prescription or follow up due to the problems associated with exchanging medical information across state lines.
Licensing requirements for states in the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact are identical to Minnesota, which would simplify things for nurses who simply want to help people who are suffering.
State government should be doing all it can to make it easier for nurses to do their jobs and treat the sick, and this proposal is one way we can accomplish that goal.
Have a good weekend,