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March 27, 2007

SEIU tries to kill budget when it can't get its way

Posted by David Postman at 8:45 AM

During House debate on the budget Monday, SEIU was working the doors hard, summoning legislators out one at a time to be lobbied to put another $15 million in for nursing homes. The union was working alongside nursing home operators trying to make good on their agreement to get at least $40 million more in Medicaid reimbursements. That's what's spelled out in a draft agreement between the union and the operators that my colleague Ralph Thomas wrote about earlier this month.

But House leaders of both parties had agreed that no one would offer budget amendments during floor debate and SEIU could not get a lawmaker to try it anyway.

So SEIU wanted lawmakers to kill the entire budget. This e-mail went out to lawmakers moments before the final vote on the budget:

Subject: SEIU 775: Vote No On State Budget

Importance: High

Dear Legislator:

On behalf of the 30,000 long-term care workers represented by SEIU 775, I am writing to urge you to vote NO on the proposed House budget unless it is amended to improve funding for nursing homes. The budget fails to meet the needs of vulnerable elderly and disabled residents in our state's nursing homes.

Nursing homes are under-funded by $60 million a year, which has led to low wages and poor benefits, high turnover among workers, and difficulty finding and training enough staff to provide quality care to vulnerable residents. The proposed budget does not adequately address this shortfall in funding and prevents nursing homes from keeping up with the rising cost of care — especially care for low-income residents.

We strongly urge you to reject this budget unless amended and adopt a budget that meets the needs of our most vulnerable. SEIU 775 members will be counting this as an important vote in our legislative scorecard.

David Rolf
SEIU 775

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