Statement on Gov.’s budget proposal

Dayton budget proposal fails some the poorest families in MN.

MN welfare grants will be essentially unchanged after 27 years without an increase.

January 22, 2013

Today, Governor Mark Dayton presented his 2014-2015 budget to the public. It goes a small way to undo some of the tax inequality that poor and working people have been suffering under – but his proposals are only a drop in the ocean compared to the massive tax breaks rich have enjoyed year after year. And once again, poor and working people will see little relief to all of the cuts inflicted on us under the past administrations.

A shameful part of the budget proposal is how it fails the poorest families in Minnesota, by not calling for a substantial increase in MN’s welfare cash grants.

Welfare grants have not been increased since 1986 – 27 years ago. Meanwhile the cost of living has DOUBLED since 1986. In 1986, a family of two (a parent and a child) received $437 per month in cash to live on. Today, that same family of two still only gets $437. One or two percent is not enough – by rights the welfare grants should be doubled.

The governor pays back the school funding shift, but it is also time to talk about paying back the TANF funding shift. TANF is the yearly block grant that MN gets from the federal government to fund its welfare program. Year after year TANF dollars have been raided to supplant general fund spending. Right now, there is almost enough money in the federal TANF block grant to double the grants in 2013, if it were use for poor families.

Especially in these tough economic times, welfare is a working person’s issue. When Unemployment Insurance runs out, parents are shocked to find out that they still don’t qualify for welfare; because they are “not poor enough.” In most cases, welfare is the unemployment insurance for those of us who have no choice but to work seasonal jobs and temporary jobs.

Even doubling the grants would keep MN families below the poverty level. Currently, families on MFIP (Minnesota’s welfare program for families with children) live 70% below the federal poverty level. If the grants were doubled, we would still be 30% below the poverty level. That is why we say doubling the grants is only a start.

The Welfare Rights Committee, supported by dozens of other organizations, has a bill to double the welfare grants. The bill will be introduced soon. We don’t care what the governor’s budget says; we will call on legislators to do the right thing. It is time to use TANF money for TANF families. It is time to double the grants.

27 years is too long! Give back the TANF money to TANF families. Increase the welfare grants in the state of Minnesota.

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