In a gesture he said was meant to underscore the impact of the state government shutdown, state Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Deistrict 60B) donated his July salary to four nonprofits that faced budget cuts due to the shutdown.
"We’re in a significant crisis and people are suffering as a result of the budget crisis," he told Patch. "I felt compelled to donate my July salary to four agencies that serve my district as an act of solidarity."
Hornstein's redirected salary brought around $500 each to the Minnesota AIDS Project, the Southwest Senior Center, the Neighborhood Involvement Program, and Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Hornstein visited each organization this week as part of an effort to gauge the impact of the shutdown. The news was first reported in the Minnesota Independent.
“What is clear from my visits this week is that we must end this shutdown as soon as possible,” said Hornstein. “And we need to end it in such a way that the worst of the Republican budget cuts are alleviated.”
Before recieving a reprieve from Special Master Kathleen Blatz, the Minnesota AIDS Project laid off or cut hours for 47 of its 57 staffers, including many public health workers and counselors for people living with HIV and AIDS.
"We're delighted and honored that he made this donation," said Amy Brugh, a public policy director with the organization.
Because of the shutdown, Planned Parenthood lost state support for two sexual health and family planning programs aimed at Hmong and African immigrants, said one official, but won't be going before the Special Master.
"We're very grateful to Representative Hornstein for his generosity and his support for our clinic and patients," said Ellen Samuelson-Young, Director of Government Relations, Education and Outreach for Planned Parenthood.
Both Brugh and Samuelson-Young called for a "fair" budget solution that balanced budget cuts and tax increases protecting the people they serve.
Legislators' compensation during the shutdown has become something of as some senators and representatives, such as Hornstein, have declined their July pay in solidarity with workers laid off as a result of the state budget impasse.
"I think it’s fine. I don’t have an issue with anyone taking or not taking their salary," Hornstein said of his colleagues who are still taking their pay. "I made an individual, private decision based on my values and traditions."