Testimony at Senate HHS Finance division – March 25, 2011

This budget bill is full of attacks on the poorest in this state. Here are just a few reasons why SF760 should be voted down in its entirety.

First, we are against section 21, which uses disabled people’s federal SSI funds as a bludgeon against their impoverished family members.

Section 21 would deduct $150 per month from the family’s MFIP grant if that family is coping with a disabled family member on SSI. Look at a family of 3. Say one of the three is disabled and on SSI. The MFIP grant for the other two is $437 per month. If section 21 became law, the family’s MFIP grant would be $287 in cash to live on for whole month, for two people. Besides that, this family has to care for a disabled family member. And to top it off, the disabled person has to see their whole family suffer, because of him or her.

A cut such as this has never been carried out in any other state in the country. Also, it basically forces parents to break federal law by using the federal SSI grant for living expenses for the entire family rather than for the disabled family member as intended.

Second, we are against the 90-residency requirement. It’s unconstitutional. At least half of the MFIP grant is federal money and if we’re eligible, we’re eligible. When we are that broke and desperate, we don’t move to other states for “fun” or for “great benefits.” We move because we have concrete hopes and plans to make a better life. In this time of economic crisis, everyone in this country should have equal rights at survival.

Third, we are against the essential elimination of General Assistance and and emergency programs, by folding them into a county block grant. General Assistance is not a supplement to other income, it all people have; it’s GA or zilch. These programs are  there to keep disabled people alive based on clear need.

We would like to remind you that a family of 3 on MFIP gets only $532 per month – far below the federal poverty level. A disabled person on GA gets a whopping $203 to live on. When we are forced onto assistance, life is already a miserable struggle, 24-7. We don’t need any more hate-driven laws to make things even worse.

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