I would like to start today's letter by thanking three local groups which recently took time out of their busy schedules to visit with me here in the district about the fields of health care and other human services-related programs.
Recently, Department Director Tom Burke and the senior staff at the Aitkin County Health and Human Services Department brought me up to date on items that need attention in that area. They work within a wide spectrum of critical services ranging from child and adult foster care, in home public health nursing to emergency management in the case of major emergencies like flooding, tornadoes and potential community and nation wide health threats such as ebola or other communicable foreign disease threats we may face. We must ensure we maintain the resources necessary to deal quickly and effectively with the wide range of individual and community wide problems that can arise often with little or no warning.
Aitkin Health Services Director Maria Freidlund, her senior staff and residents and Aicota Director Barry Foss, his senior staff and the residents provided in depth feedback on areas we need to work on to ensure we continue to provide the best possible services for those that may need memory care services, physical therapy, general nursing home care, in-home health services and access to assisted-living facilities. As we put together the next two-year state budget, my goal is to ensure we provide adequate funding to provide competitive wages for both beginning and senior health care professionals that work in this area and invest in the necessary maintenance and upkeep at their facilities.
Early next week we will release our detailed Transportation Funding plan. I can say with confidence the plan will provide the substantial, stable, long term funding we need to bring our roads and bridges back to the high standards we expect here in Minnesota. As I have consistently said, we do not need new taxes on gasoline to fix this problem, rather we need to focus on roads and bridges as a priority and shift tax revenues we are already collecting to that area. Look for a more detailed discussion of transportation funding next week.
Late yesterday (Thursday, March 19), we passed and sent to the Senate a bill to fix a problem that our National Guard and Military Reserve members, their wives and children face in qualifying for many resident higher education grants and scholarships programs. They currently must wait a full year before they or their family are eligible. That is in contrast to their active duty comrades or an individual that may be in Minnesota without lawful immigration status. In most cases those groups are eligible right away for higher education assistance programs when stationed or otherwise residing in Minnesota. I am pleased to report H.F. 841, a bill I co-authored passed on 130 to zero vote.
Constituent input on these and other matters is always welcome. Also, residents of District 10B are invited to participate in an online legislative survey I am conducting. Please click here to participate and provide your thoughts on some of this session's top issues.