MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It appears no deal is in sight after the deadline passed Monday for Minnesota lawmakers to decide how to dole out $250 million in bonus pay for frontline workers.
DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler and GOP Sen. Karin Housley, the chair and vice chair of the nine-person working group in charge of making decisions on the fund, issued this joint statement Tuesday afternoon:
We know this financial support cannot be disbursed soon enough to the frontline workers who have sacrificed so much during this pandemic. We understand and share the sense of urgency to move forward with a recommendation. To get this right and get unanimous support among working group members, it’s going to take more time to collect and analyze data about the state’s workforce. We will continue to work until an agreement is reached.
Group members had spent weeks trying to decide which workers would be eligible for the direct payment bonuses, and how much each would receive. Two decisions the group did make before the Monday deadline were that workers would need to apply to get the bonus, and the state wouldn’t tax the money.
DFL members of the group proposed trying to include more workers outside of the health care field, like teachers, food processing plant employees and child care workers. GOP members instead wanted there to be two groups, with one comprised of health care workers, including those who work in long-term care facilities. This group would have the highest priority for receiving funds. The second group is comprised of other “essential workers,” though those roles and fields weren’t specified.
Lawmakers approved the bonus in June, with funds provided by the federal government’s American Rescue Plan, which granted billions to the state in pandemic-related aid.
There is no word yet on when the working group will meet again.
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