MN lawmakers: Constitutional amendment could provide LTC funding

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Minnesota state Rep. Jerry Newton, left, and Sen. Kent Eken.
Minnesota state Rep. Jerry Newton, left, and Sen. Kent Eken.

An amendment to the Minnesota constitution could raise more than $1 billion annually to address the state's long-term care funding crisis, according to two legislators.

Minnesota state Rep. Jerry Newton and Sen. Kent Eken said that removing the cap on taxable income above $118,500 and applying the same 6.2% tax that employees pay into Social Security would raise about $1.2 billion per year in dedicated revenue every year. The change would affect only 4% of income earners in the state, they say, and the additional money could fund care for the elderly and disabled.

“We currently have dedicated funding sources in our state constitution for entities ranging from the arts to parks and trails to wild habitats,” Eken said. “If passed, long-term care would join this list, and if anyone needs constitutionally dedicated and protected funding, it's our most vulnerable citizens. We cannot prevent the inevitable, so let's start this conversation.”

Indeed, Eken and Newton said that even if others don't agree that the proposed amendment is the solution to the LTC funding issue, policymakers and others need to start thinking seriously about the matter. It's an issue affecting all states, not just the Land of the 1,000 Lakes. In Minnesota, however, more than 1.3 million residents are expected to be aged more than 65 years by 2030, nearly doubling the current senior population. Of those residents, approximately 70% will need some type of long-term care, according to the lawmakers.

“This age wave will consume all other areas of our state budget if we don't take action, and that's a big challenge to take on,” Newton said. “How do we solve this challenge? As of now, the ‘dedication amendment' is the only solution that's been proposed, but that doesn't mean it's the only answer. The most important thing is that we start this very serious discussion about how to fund long-term care, and we start it now.”

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