WRC testimony on Senate budget

Welfare Rights Committee testimony on SFxxx for the Health and Human Services Budget Division – April 18, 2016.

Poor people’s lives matter. We need cash now.
The Senate’s overall budget targets give nothing to the poor statewide. The new Senate sub-committee on ‘equity’ which has a target double this entire HHS budget, does not give low-income people what is needed – actual cash needed to survive on. [Extra note from WRC meeting 4-23-2016: This 2016 legislature has done nothing to solve the problem of the cops killing Black and brown people in Minnesota.]

In the metro area and across the state, whether we are Black, brown or white, low and no-income people are far from needing a ‘small business loan.’ We don’t run the non-profits that make their money by ‘non-profiting’ off the misery of poor people statewide. We don’t need yet another list of programs that make politicians feel good about themselves. These programs (while they might help a few) would mostly help well-off professionals. Low-income people need actual cash help now.

Grant increase
This proposal does not increase the welfare grants. Not MFIP, not General Assistance. The governor’s idea – which is rejected by the Senate in this proposal – increases the MFIP grants by $100 per month. The governor’s proposal was already pathetic, because it simply repaid the TANF money that now goes the Working Family Credit. The Working Family Credit should have been General Fund money in the first place. For the past few years, we have pointed out that TANF money has been siphoned away for other programs. We would have at least expected that this one blatant theft of TANF money – TANF money for the Working Family Credit – would have been fixed.

The cost of living has more than doubled since 1986 – the year the grants were last increased. For years now, the Welfare Rights Committee has had bills calling for the grants to be more than doubled, using General Fund money, if necessary.

Give Aid to All in Need.
The GAAIN (Give Aid to All In Need) bill, SF1426, should have been in the mix this year. GAAIN would expand state-funded General Assistance to cover both adults with no income who are looking for work and families who have hit the five-year limit on welfare.

There are thousands of people in desperate need who, under this state’s laws, don’t qualify for any cash assistance at all. People are homeless, cashless and have to scrounge for handouts. This is a burden on low and middle-income communities, statewide.

Don’t be a hostage
There is a barrage of entities – county, city and non-profit – that are lining up for state dollars to ‘fix’ people in poverty. Poor people need money. Their own money. To survive on. If you have to make a choice – in this division, or on the senate floor – let the state of Minnesota know that you choose the many – the actual people in need – over profits for a few.

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