MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Republican lawmakers say that pandemic bonus pay should go to workers whom they say were most at risk.
The Minnesota Legislature set aside $250 million to say thanks to frontline workers. On Thursday, Republican members of the Frontline Worker Pay Work Group said that the money should be split among health care workers and first responders. Nurses, prison guards and hospice workers would be among those eligible for $1,200 in bonus pay.
“This bonus shows our gratitude to those critical care workers who put themselves most at risk to keep the rest of us safe and healthy,” said Sen. Karin Housley (R-Stillwater). “This $1,200 would be a big thank you — a thank you for truly being heroes during the pandemic.”
Critics of the GOP proposal say it excludes essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, janitors and fast food workers. In a Thursday statement, the Minnesota Nurses Association urged lawmakers to find a solution that does not exclude essential workers.
“It’s not just the nurses who did this,” said Rachel Hanneman, a nurse and critic of the Republican proposal. “When I would leave my shift, I’d go…to the grocery store, grab Starbucks on the way home. There were a whole range of people who worked during the pandemic, who didn’t have the opportunity to work from home.”
One Democratic lawmaker on the Frontline Worker Pay Group panel called the proposal “political posturing.” For any frontline bonus plan to pass, Gov. Tim Walz would need to call a special session.
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