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Archive for month: January, 2019
ST. PAUL—A pair of bills that call on the state to make modest investments to help address the critical child care shortage in Greater Minnesota were introduced today at the Minnesota Legislature.
SF 537/HF 422, authored by Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL-St. Peter), and SF 538/HF423, authored by Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud) and Rep. Brand, both create and fund new grant programs with the shared goal of increasing child care capacity while fostering successful and sustainable child care business operations in Greater Minnesota.
“A big thank you to Sen. Nelson, Sen. Relph and Rep. Brand for taking on this complicated issue,” said Nicole Griensewic Mickelson, executive director of the Region Nine Development Commission and president of the Greater Minnesota Partnership (GMNP), an economic development advocacy organization that has been working with legislators to explore ways to address Greater Minnesota’s child care needs.
“Communities and businesses are reeling from the effects of the child care shortage,” Griensewic Mickelson added. “These bills are a promising start to bringing more child care options to Greater Minnesota and helping providers run successful businesses.”
While the child care shortage is a major concern across the entire state, the impact is particularly acute in rural communities. According to a study by the Center for Rural Policy and Development, Greater Minnesota lost more than 15,000 child care spots between 2006-2015—largely due to a significant decline in in-home providers. Child care centers have helped make up for the loss of in-home providers in the metro area and larger population centers, but small and medium-sized rural communities are still struggling to fill that void.
When groups representing rural Minnesota interests released their wish lists for the 2019 legislative session, some of the items looked familiar: a boost in funding for the Local Government Aid program, proposals to generate housing, more money for broadband expansion.
Yet while the issues might not be new, some of the players at the Capitol are, including Gov.-elect Tim Walz, the former U.S. congressman from Mankato whose campaign theme – “One Minnesota” – heartened some rural leaders who have long felt left behind by the Twin Cities metropolitan region.
“I’m a ‘One Minnesota’ kind of guy, so I’m kind of optimistic,” said Dan Dorman, the executive director of the Greater Minnesota Partnership (GMNP), a collection of businesses, nonprofits and other groups. Dorman, a former Republican state lawmaker, said he was committed to supporting a gubernatorial candidate from Greater Minnesota – regardless of party. So, in the fall election, he filled in the oval next to the Democrat Walz’s name.
Much of the chatter at the fall convention of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC), held in Alexandria, centered on the possibilities of a Walz administration, said Bradley Peterson, the executive director of the organization, which represents about 90 cities. “Our members are pretty excited that there is going to be a rural governor,” he said. “That opens up, hopefully, some opportunities and brings some fresh perspective to the process here for the next four years.”
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