It was an action-packed week for the Best Life Alliance, formerly known as The 5% Campaign. The coalition publicly switched on its new name and logo on Monday and officially transitioned from a one-time campaign to a ongoing Home & Community-Based Services coalition.
On Tuesday morning Best Life Alliance held its very first press conference at the State Office Building. Parent Pam Gonnella, DSP Sam Subah, LSS CEO Jodi Harpstead, chief Senate author Kent Eken, and House HHS Finance Committee Chair Rep. Matt Dean spoke. The legislators noted there is already strong bipartisan support of a 5% rate increase for Home & Community-Based Services in 2016 to address the workforce crisis. "The 5% rate increase is not just about numbers, it's about providing a better quality of life," Sen. Eken told reporters. (The chief author in the House will again be Rep. Rod Hamilton.)
Media present included Don Davis of Forum, Tim Pugmire of MPR, videographers from TPT and KSTP, Patrick Coolican from the Star Tribune, Tim Benjamin and Jane McClure from Access Press, and Jo Erbes from Disability Viewpoints. There were also many supporters who lingered after the conference to record short personal videos for the coalition's social media.
Yesterday, the initial state budget forecast was released and it showed a $1.9 billion surplus. After a third is moved to the budget reserve as required, distribution of the remaining $1.2 billion will be up for debate. Several media stories following the forecast announcement mentioned the Best Life Alliance five percent rate increase among the priorities being considered for spending the surplus dollars. ARRM CEO Bruce Nelson was quoted in the Pioneer Press article.
The surplus is good news for the Best Life Alliance, but there are many other groups, and state needs like transportation, vying for these dollars. We need to continue to build on our strong, broad coalition of supporters to make sure that community-based services are priority for policymakers before session even begins on March 8th.
Ways to stay updated and support the coalition:
- Follow Best Life Alliance on Twitter @BestLifeMN and on Facebook. Like and share coalition posts and use the new hashtag #BestLife4All in your related posts going forward.
- View the latest news (including recent coverage of the press conference/budget forecast) by visiting the Best Life Alliance news & media webpage.
- Email me to join the Best Life Alliance email list.
- Spread the word about Best Life Alliance advocacy efforts via social media, on your website
- Add a line noting your support of the Best Life Alliance (with a link) in your email signature.
- Contact your legislators and Governor Dayton
--Amy Wartick, Communications Director