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State sends 582,000 letters to its most vulnerable: We may not be there to help you

When Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson planned today’s open forum for employees, she intended to be talking about legislative achievements from the 2011 session that will affect work at DHS.

When Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson planned today’s open forum for employees, she intended to be talking about legislative achievements from the 2011 session that will affect work at DHS. Instead, she spent her time talking about what it will mean for that work to stop.

She began by acknowledging the weight state employees are carrying as they brace for a shutdown, but she moved quickly to the more vulnerable group: the clients served by DHS employees.

Jesson announced to those gathered that notices were going out to Minnesotans who receive health care benefits, food support, adoption services and other critical assistance, notifying them that they may not be able to access those benefits and services come July 1.

The number of notices sent out is staggering. Here’s what Jesson told the hundreds of agency employees who packed a conference room at the Elmer Andersen Human Services Building in downtown St. Paul:

“There are like 582,000 of those letters going out. Of course, we serve many more people than that … we are only are sending one per household … It’s just so hard to say that is how we are spending some of our time that we could be spending on programs that help these people.”

There it is, your Minnesota government shutdown quote of the day.

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