Give seniors priority

To the Editor:

I, along with other members of the Minnesota Legislature’s Rural Caucus, urge Democrat leaders to prioritize seniors and caregivers in our state budget.

We are facing a crisis in long-term care if not addressed immediately. I support prioritizing seniors and their caregivers. However, the Senate Democrat budget currently proposes to spend more than $3 billion during the next two years, yet gives little consideration to our rural areas and seniors in Minnesota. Many facilities caring for our elderly and developmentally disabled, particularly in our rural areas, are struggling and need the state’s help and commitment.

Minnesota’s long-term care system is under stress due to increasing cost and a growing senior population. According to the Long-Term Care Imperative – a collaboration of Aging Services of Minnesota and Care Providers of Minnesota – 115 facilities are on the verge of closing down, placing 15,000 employees and communities at risk.

In Greater Minnesota, the nursing home in many communities is the largest employer. The dedicated staff work for below-average wages, with little to no benefits. The local hospital, Walmart and hog confinements pay a more livable wage than what our nursing homes can provide. This is unacceptable.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities, such as Truman Senior Living and Good Samaritan in Jackson, have been forced to do more with less for years, and now the DFL’s misprioritized budget will jeopardize seniors, their caregivers and countless communities. Minnesotans deserve better.

I was re-elected in November 2012 to the newly reconfigured Senate District 23, which now includes all of Watonwan County, portions of Jackson County and Le Sueur County. Martin, Blue Earth, Faribault and Waseca counties continue to remain in the district. I welcome comments and questions and can be reached by telephone at (651) 296-5713, by mail at 139 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155, or via e-mail at

State Sen. Julie Rosen,