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Long-term care, and other direct care workers, could be in line for a $1 billion investment to boost their pay under a proposal from Minnesota lawmakers. 

Senate Republicans in the state last week rolled out the proposal to address Minnesota’s staffing crisis, according to a report by the Star Tribune.

The package specifically calls for the state to spend $1 billion to raise wages for long-term care staff, personal care assistants, group home workers and those who provide services for people with disabilities, the report stated. 

Of the $1 billion, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities would get an allotted $358 million to increase pay for workers. Senators are also pushing to spend $322 million to recruit employees to the long-term care sector and train up to 20,000 new workers in the state. 

“If you think: a billion dollars? That’s a lot of money. Yes it is,” Sen. Jim Abeler (R), the bill’s sponsor, told the newspaper. 

“We have worked with all kinds of members and stakeholders to try and stretch it as far as it can go and do as much good as it can possibly do,” he said.

The state currently has more than 23,000 job openings in its long-term care industry, according to provider groups. “It’s not that [providers] don’t want to care for individuals who come to their door, they just don’t have the staff,” said Libbie Chapuran, director of communications for LeadingAge Minnesota. 

Minnesota officials have been focused on closing that gap. 

The state earlier this month announced it surpassed its goal of recruiting 1,000 new certified nursing assistants, with 1,278 participants, for the industry.