This week, a Senate Finance Division approved a bill to increase the welfare grants by $13 per month. This is an insult. The grants should be doubled.
The welfare (MFIP) grants have not gone up in 31 years – since 1986. At this point in time, the grants should be more than doubled to keep up with cost of living.
In 2017, the Welfare Rights Committee tried to revive their bill to double the grants (which would be an increase of $532 per month for a family of two). There was also a bill this year to increase the grants by $100 per month. Neither of these proposals survived.
Selling out poor families…
Instead of calling for doubling the grants, or even pushing for their own bill for a $100 MFIP increase, politicians (both Republican and Democrat), and some of the “advocates” for poor families quickly sold out. Some collaborated with right-wing politicians to amend their own (already inadequate) $100 increase and/or their ‘marriage bill’ to be a pathetic $10 to $13 per month increase. Their $13 increase amendment passed in the senate committee process.
Progressives speak out.
In both the House and the Senate, many progressive DFL members denounced the small increases as an insult. Starting back in 2013, many legislators have put themselves on the line for the bills to match MFIP grants to the cost of living. They went on a 24-hour hunger strike, tried (and failed at) the $437 challenge, and spoke out against the fact that grants are at 60% below the poverty level. They instituted a state task force to see how the federal TANF money was being stolen from poor kids. And this year, they rightly spoke out against the paltry proposals for $10 and $13 grant increases
Stop stealing poor people’s money.
MFIP is Minnesota’s welfare program for families with children. It is about half-funded by a federal block grant called TANF. For years, MN politicians have been stealing federal TANF funds for programs that were once state-funded. The $13 per month bill takes TANF funds from two programs, but does not commit to backfilling them with state funding – this is a bad precedent.
TANF funds should go to TANF families. Right now, less than 30% of federal TANF money goes into the pockets of families in need. The rest goes to programs that should be funded by state dollars. We say, all TANF money should go to TANF families.
What to do now?
There are still at least two months to go in this session. There is a possibility that Governor Dayton will veto the whole HHS bill. Then the process starts all over again. Besides the need to increase the grants, the Welfare Rights Committee also has the GAAIN bill – to Give Aid to All in Need. If Dayton vetoes the big HHS bill, we can keep up the fight for both.
Give Aid to All in Need!
Double the Grants!