Lawmakers continue fight for more EMS funding

Lawmakers continue fight for more EMS funding

Lawmakers continue fight for more EMS funding

Although Gov. Tim Walz and DFL legislative leaders agreed to spending targets last week that include $16 million for emergency medical services, many state lawmakers from Greater Minnesota continue to fight for much more to keep the system from collapsing.

“There’s a crisis before us,” says Rep. Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora, “and ambulance services that provide critical need to all the people in the State of Minnesota is failing and its failing to a point where it could collapse.”

Lislegard authored a bill calling for $122 million in short-term funding. “That only is a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding to be able to provide the service,” he told the House Property Tax Committee.

One metro area lawmaker said she understands the urgency because her parents live in greater Minnesota where fast emergency medical services aren’t guaranteed.

“When my mom was having an allergic reaction, she drove herself to the ER and we were like, ‘That’s a terrible idea, right?’” said Rep. Athena Hollins, DFL-St. Paul. “Like, you could have veered off the road, like your throat is swelling up, et cetera. It’s really just a horrible system.”

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) represents 110 cities in the 80 counties outside the seven-county metro area.

“This is a make or break for us,” says Erik Simonson of the CGMC. “We have literally cities that are facing decisions they don’t want to face, and that is do we continue or do we give up this [service]?”

During an interview on “At Issue” last week, Gov. Walz said he understands the need for more EMS funding in the long term.

“I don’t think we should be making this decision in a short, compressed amount of time,” he said. “I think it may end up, in the long run, being more than what they’re proposing. I think we need to have something that deals with this in the long run, and I think that should be saved for a budget year.”

However, that means a long-term solution wouldn’t happen until May of 2025, and many cities say they might not survive until then without more short-term funding help. Lislegard’s bill passed on a voice vote and was sent to the House Taxes Committee.