Welfare Rights Committee gets first welfare cash increase since 1986.
Victory stolen: Politicians set increase for 2015
Because of the Welfare Rights Committee’s fierce battle at the State Capitol, the first increase for welfare since 1986 has passed. May 17, the House passed the Health and Human Services Finance bill. The bill includes a housing allowance for MFIP families (Minnesota’s welfare program for poor families).
Turning the tide
It is a victory in that it turns the tide after 27 years of no grant increase. Legislative backers of the bill have declared that this is only a start. It is because of the relentless and persistent work of the WRC that this first cash increase passed. We exposed the theft of federal TANF (welfare) dollars and the extreme poverty of MN MFIP families. Our message has been heard and we will make sure it continues to be heard!
Two more years of ‘Extreme Poverty’
However, the fact that it won’t help a single person for 2 years is an outrage. While it as an acknowledgement that the cash MFIP grants that poor families get don’t even come close to covering rent, it is cynical in the extreme in that it actively condemn kids to homelessness for another 2 years.
Welfare grants should be double
If the welfare grants had kept up with inflation since 1986, the year of the last increase, they would be double. The cash grant levels keep over 70,000 MN children in extreme poverty. A cash MFIP grant for a family of two is $437 per month. WRC fought to double the grants.
Cowardly election politics
The Welfare Rights Committee has been fighting to increase the grants since last summer. We introduced a bill to double the grants. We struggled with legislators until the bitter end to get even this increase. We originally had a cash increase in the House bill set to start right away. One reason for the disappointing two-year wait before the increase takes effect is the cowardly legislative leadership putting election politics before people. We had to continually urge and re-convince legislators to do right thing, after 27 years.
The Poverty Industry
Another barrier to the success of our bill to double the grants was interference from the “Poverty Industry” – agencies and other areas of government that use funds meant for poor families for their businesses or their “studies.”
Stolen TANF money
The federal money meant for welfare, the TANF block grant, has been raided for years. Only 28% of the TANF fund goes directly to actual people in need. Our work caused many legislators – Democrats and Republican – to question this misuse of TANF funds.
Bailing out the rich, again
The legislature and the governor clearly dance to the tune of the rich. They use regressive taxes to give General Fund money to billionaire stadium owners, then turn around and tell homeless kids that there won’t be money to help them for two years. We will take this truth to the streets, and continue to demand justice. This is just the beginning. We will keep up the fight to “Raise the Welfare Grants” until poor families in MN get the justice we deserve!