U.S. Representative speaks on caregiver wage increase

Kieran Kuehn
Staff Writer

Representative Jack Considine and I sat down for a cup of cocoa and a scone to discuss a bill he is championing in the Minnesota House of Representatives Wednesday, Jan. 22. This bill functions to increase wages for caregivers across Greater Minnesota and looks to give back to the community these caregivers service by providing more accessible, better quality, and more economically stable caregivers. Here is a transcript of the interview.

What is your role in the House?

“First and foremost, I represent the people of 19B. That’s about 90% of Mankato, Mankato Township, and the people of Eagle Lake. My title is state representative, but I do have a second title which is chair, and I chair the legislative committee on correctional reform. I am also on the judiciary committee. I’m on the public safety committee and I’m also on the capital investment, also known as bonding, committee.”

What does this bill aim to do?

This is a wage increase for caregivers of “the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, the physically disabled, as well as the elderly. The people that allow these folks to live productive lives in the community.”

What does this bill seek to achieve all in all?

“A minimum wage for all these folks of $15 an hour. Currently in Greater Minnesota, their average is between $11 and $12, some are being paid as low as $10.”

How does this bill directly affect college age students?

“Well, in Mankato, I would say the majority of caregivers are college students trying to pick up some extra money.”

How does this bill directly affect the population who uses the caretakers you’re looking to pay?

“It mainly affects the disability community and their ability to live outside institutions. I think I can best illustrate that with a story of a 17-year-old lady with multiple sclerosis (MS) that recently wrote to me and she’s in a nursing home because that’s the only place she can find the care she needs. She gets to make two decisions a week about what she eats. Otherwise her life is completely out of her control. I think that should be an embarrassment in the state of Minnesota.”

Do you have any final parting words of wisdom for students at Minnesota State University, Mankato?

“Study hard, smile at your teachers, get involved, vote. We saw some tragic results in the 2016 election because people didn’t vote, and our democracy works better when everybody votes, so please get out and vote.”

Header photo courtesy of the MNSU website.

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