Public Policy Update: The Workforce We Need and Deserve

2/26/21 by Dominic McQuerry

BREAKING NEWS: The new state budget forecast being released today, February 26, 2021, will show a projected surplus of $1.6 billion for FYs 2022-23. For context, a May projection showed a $4.7 deficit and the November forecast showed a $1.3 billion deficit. This new surplus will be the number used while the legislature crafts the budget for FYs 2022-23.

While it is exciting to see our overall state finances improving, this does not mean that everyone has recovered from the economic impacts of the pandemic. More to come on this in future updates.

Behavioral Health Workforce to Increase BIPOC Practitioners Comes with Bipartisan Support

According to data from multiple state agencies compiled by the MN Department of Health, our supply of new behavioral health graduates from Minnesota institutions has not been meeting the projected demand. The workforce shortage of licensed Black, Indigenous and practitioners of color is even direr.

Wilder is proud to be partnering closely with NAMI-MN and other partners in the field to pass HF 970 (Vang) / 1362 (Utke). This is an ambitious bill to better support BIPOC mental health professionals and the training organizations in order to ensure more people of color can achieve full licensure. Wilder Community Mental Health and Wellness Vice President Pahoua Yang has given testimony in support of the bill in the Behavioral Health and Human Services committees.

Thus far, the bill has received a lot of support from stakeholders across the field and the bill passed out of those two committees with bipartisan support and zero votes in opposition! We will continue to provide updates on the bill as it hopefully continues to move through the legislative process. 

New Resources for Renters Hopefully Coming Soon

This week, the Department of Treasury issued new guidance to state and local governments who were recipients of federal Emergency Rental Assistance funding on the eligibility, allowable uses and other requirements for spending the funding. In total Minnesota will receive a little over $375 million. $289.4 million will go to Minnesota Housing to administer, and the City of Saint Paul and Ramsey County received $9.2 million and $7.25 million respectively. We hope that the state and local governments will coordinate their efforts to avoid confusion for people seeking assistance.

Those interested receiving new details about the program can sign up for alerts and updates from MN Housing.

Not Too Late to Sign Up for Upcoming Homeless & Mental Health Days on the Hill

There is still time to sign up for two upcoming opportunities to engage with policymakers at the capitol.

(Virtual) Homeless Day on the Hill – March 9 – 11, 2021

Due to COVID-19, the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless (MCH) will be hosting a multi-day virtual day on the hill. There will be opportunities to hear from speakers and to engage with legislators each day. Be on the lookout for more details soon on the MCH website.

(Virtual) Mental Health Day on the Hill – March 11, 2021

The Mental Health Legislative Network (MHLN) is hosting a virtual version of their annual day on the hill. The event will begin with an hour long kick-off event, followed by virtual visits with legislators. If you are interested in meeting with your legislator to discuss the importance of investing in a strong behavioral health system, sign up using this google form.

Nervous about the idea of meeting with a lawmaker? You won’t be alone for these visits! MHLN and MCH will group constituents together to meet with their elected officials.



Policy Pro Corner

In each update we will include a tip, strategy or resource that will help you to improve your policy and advocacy skills. All policy and advocacy tips can be found here.

Tip #3: Never Be Afraid to Say “I Don’t Know”

There will be times during your advocacy where you get a question that you don’t know the answer or due to nerves you forget the answer. It happens to everyone. The worst thing you can do is to lie and make up an answer, it will eventually come out.

The best option is to say something to the effect of “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will follow-up with you to get you an answer.” Extra Tip: if you say you are going to follow up, then you need to follow up.