Ok, too much to talk about on the political front, but I can’t resist one weather-related question: When will warm summer days come and stay for more than three days?
The Minnesota Legislature is doing their best to heat things up. On April 28, our legislators came up with new funding targets — in general, a compromise on both House and Senate budgets, to be closer in line with the Dayton administration. There is agreement that the legislature wants to avoid the governor vetoing the entire health and human services omnibus bill and the possibility of running over into a special session.
Besides health and human services, there are proposed funding reductions in transportation that could seriously affect people with disabilities. Such cuts are shortsighted. If people with disabilities don’t have transportation to and from gainful employment, the state loses taxpayers. If people can’t get to healthcare providers predictably, especially in bad weather, it’s likely that more costly health conditions will result.
Another area that affects our community is the proposed reduction in funding to the state’s public higher education systems, the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State. Now that we finally have access to higher education, will funding cuts mean that we don’t have adequate support services and needed accommodations, or that we have to pay much higher tuition?
In the healthcare omnibus bill, there is some positive movement and some negative movement. One definitely negative direction is that the Best Life Alliance legislation didn’t pass conference committee, and is unlikely at this point to be added back into the omnibus bill without some pretty significant lobbying efforts.
All these reductions are being made, in a year with a large budget surplus, to offer sizeable tax cuts. Unfortunately, for us, everything is moving so fast that we really don’t know what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen leaving us with no way to be proactive. As transparent as the Minnesota government tries to be, there will be some behind the scenes negotiations, and some deal-making to make this all work.
I’ll say it once again: Pay a visit to your legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton’s office. Let them know that tax cuts aren’t going to benefit you as much as keeping your social and public services and especially, reliable PCAs.
While focusing on state politics and budget takes up a great deal of our time at Access Press, I also want to share some thoughts on a topic I don’t often editorialize about but is very important to me: Access Press and its finances. Throughout the 16 years that I’ve been executive director of Access Press (I know, how did that happen? It feels more like 16 months.), we have always remained reasonably stable financially. There are always ups and downs, and a few times the economy has dealt threatening blows to our financial sustainability.
In the upcoming year, we’ll again be pursuing funding from philanthropic organizations. They have been very strong supporters of the paper and the community. Fortunately, we have had some generous benefactors in the past and we have a determined Board of Directors that is working on identifying humanitarian funding sources to help us through some upcoming shortfalls. We have always had board members who are truly dedicated to the stability of the paper, and they have worked hard to help write grant requests.
We are also fortunate that many of our advertisers have been stable and reliable; much of our income is earned through these advertisers. I hope each of you will look closely at the advertisers and support them for supporting Access Press for all these years.
I do need to note that our individual donor support has gone down slightly over the years. We still have some very generous individual donors who give substantial and consistent amount of money per year and we can’t thank them enough. There are other donors who are dependable and committed to giving as much as they can occasionally to keep us in the black. I’d like to encourage all readers to think about sending $25 or $50 checks on a regular basis through credit card or electronic funds transfer. Regular income makes it much easier to budget our financial forecasts.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s never a bad time to pull out your checkbook and send that extra donation in to Access Press! We really appreciate all your generosity, and we hope it’s always an honor for you to see your own name on the donor list that we’ve published every month for the last 27 years. It was very important to Charlie Smith at the beginning, and it’s equally important to me, that no matter the size of the donation we are proud to put all our donors’ names in the paper. Thanks so much for your support. We look forward to making sure that Access Press is here for you for a long time to come.
Have a beautiful spring, and continue making calls, sending notes and being seen at the capitol to request that your legislator makes zero cuts to DHS, increases pay rates for caregivers, and makes sure we have options for transportation and education.