Our opening day speech is below. Click here for the opening day handout we gave to legislators. For photos, check out our various facebook pages.
We are here, on the opening day of the 2013 legislative session, to say, “Justice for poor and working people! Undo the cuts! Tax the rich! Raise the welfare grants!”
2013 is the year to get justice for our families. Now is the time to undo 27 years of shoving poor families aside. This is the year to demand that the legislators behind these marble walls do the right thing and increase the welfare grants in the state of Minnesota!
Welfare grants have not been increased since 1986 – 27 years ago! In 1986 the monthly cash grant for a family of 2 was…$437. Today, in 2013, the maximum cash grant is still…$437. This is an outrage! The cost of living has more than doubled since 1986, but the poorest of the poor in MN are stuck living 70% below the poverty line. We say, “Double the Welfare Grants!”
In the past 27 years, the richest in this state got billions of dollars in tax breaks, Yet poor and working people have seen cut after cut after cut. In 1986, there was a 1% increase in the welfare grants. It wasn’t enough then, not it’s enough now.
In recent years, the rich got richer through outright theft: By stealing our homes through foreclosure, by driving down wages, by ripping through the veins of mother earth and piping toxins across our land, by busting unions and by killing people in their wars for profit. They imprison our young people and try to steal our right to vote. They steal people’s homes, lands and basic sustenance here and abroad. They try to prosecute us for raising our voices against their crimes.
We are sick of it, and it is time to fight back! We are sick of seeing homeless shelters overflowing. We are sick of seeing children living in poverty. Enough of women being forced in with abusers. No more to families doubled and tripled up in tiny apartments. Stop stomping on parents who are struggling every minute of every day to survive. Quit putting out sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, friends and families through this abuse!
We are glad that the Republicans were defeated in the 2012 elections. But that doesn’t mean our battles will be easy. We know who calls the shots behind these capitol walls – and they are paid big bucks to keep the people down. Some say we shouldn’t push the Democrats – that we should only beg for the leftover crumbs. We say, “Hell no!”
We were there when politicians from both parties stole the federal funds that were meant for poor Minnesota families. They stole poor people’s money and used it replace state funding for other programs. If that stolen money – the TANF money – went to the families in need, it would almost double the grants.
We call on all of you to join our fight. It will go on day after day, week after week, and month after month. Tell this governor and this legislature to listen to the people for a change.
We refuse to let the rich and politicians who do their bidding to beat us down! We are standing up today for justice! The Welfare Rights Committee has been at the capitol on every opening day since 1993, and we will keep coming back. We all have to keep coming back until these politicians stop listening to the paid lobbyists of the 1% and start listening to what real people and real families need.