Last week, the Minnesota Legislature was on Easter/Passover recess. The day before, we left for recess, Senate Democratic leadership released their budget targets for the upcoming biennium.

The targets showed an increase in government spending of $3 billion, or 8.5 percent.

After digging into the numbers, I was astonished to see that the targets included $150 million in cuts to the Health and Human Services (HHS) budget.

The HHS budget area includes funding for nursing homes, long-term care facilities, our disability population and the most vulnerable.

It's disappointing that Senate Democratic leadership has proposed $3 billion in additional government spending, but has decided to cut the budget for the most vulnerable Minnesotans.

During the recess, I had the opportunity to visit a local nursing home and assisted living facility, and they expressed their concerns over these proposed cuts.

I care deeply about all Minnesotans, and we must make sure there is a safety net for the most vulnerable Minnesotans and adequate funding for those who care for this population.

I will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans to make sure this is the case.

February strong job numbers

On a more positive note, Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the state's principal economic development agency, recently released figures showing that February was another strong month for employment in Minnesota.

According to DEED, Minnesota employers added 14,500 jobs in the month of February, bringing the total number of jobs in the state to just shy of the pre-recessionary high point of February 2008.

Over the past year, Minnesota's economy has added 62,400 jobs, a growth rate of 2.3 percent, compared to a U.S. growth rate of 1.5 percent over the same period.

Over the past six months, Minnesota's economy has added 50,800 jobs, the highest half-year gain since 1984.

According to DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben, all 11 industrial sectors showed healthy job gains over the past year with nine of those sectors outpacing the growth rate nationally.

For a complete list of Minnesota's employment rate and employment growth by industry sector, visit the link below: www.positivelyminnesota.com/Newsroom/Press_Releases/Most_Current_Releases/March_21_-_State_Gains_14,500_Jobs_in_February.aspx.