Category: Uncategorized

$13 per month? No. We need to DOUBLE the grants.

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!

Call now for GAAIN. Hearing March 27.

Calls needed: Friday, Saturday AND Sunday, March 24-26

On Monday morning (March 27), the senators in charge of health and human services will present their budget proposal. We need the GAAIN bill to be part of that proposal. So, we have to call Friday and over the weekend.

Tell them to include the GAAIN bill (SF791) in the Health and Human Services budget bill. If you can make only one call, please contact Senator Jim Abeler (R-Anoka).

Jim Abeler: 651-296-3733 – (Dist. 35 Anoka, R), sen.jim.abeler@senate.mn
Message to Chair Abler: “Thank you for signing on to – and granting a hearing to – the bill to ‘Give Aid to All in Need’ – the GAAIN bill – in your committee last month. Please push for the GAAIN bill – Senate File 791 – to be included in the Senate Health and Human Services finance bill. Right now, people across the state of Minnesota – who have been paying taxes for years – can’t get even a basic survival income if we fall on hard times. The GAAIN bill offers hope and dignity to people in need.”

Jim Abeler is the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee Chair. He signed on to GAAIN bill and granted it a hearing on Feb. 27. As of Mar. 23, his committee is combined with the overall HHS committee, co-chaired by Senators Abeler and Benson.

Other Senators on the HHS committee – please call as many as you can.
Message to other committee members: “Please push for the GAAIN bill – Senate File 791 – to be included in the Senate Health and Human Services finance bill. Right now, people across the state of Minnesota – who have been paying taxes for years – can’t get even a basic survival income if we fall on hard times. The GAAIN bill offers hope and dignity to people in need.”

Co-Chair: Michelle R. Benson (31, R), 651-296-3219, sen.michelle.benson@senate.mn
Jeff Hayden (62, DFL), 651-296-4261
Tony Lourey (11, DFL), 651-296-0293, sen.tony.lourey@senate.mn
Chris A. Eaton (40, DFL), 651-296-8869
Michelle L. Fischbach (13, R), 651-296-2084, sen.michelle.fischbach@senate.mn
John A. Hoffman (36, DFL), 651-296-4154
Jason Isaacson (42, DFL), 651-296-5537
Scott M. Jensen (47, R), 651-296-4837
Mary Kiffmeyer (30, R), 651-296-5655, sen.mary.kiffmeyer@senate.mn
Matt D. Klein (52, DFL), 651-296-4370
John Marty (66, DFL), 651-296-5645
Andrew Mathews (15, R), 651-296-8075
Carla J. Nelson (26, R), 651-296-4848, sen.carla.nelson@senate.mn
Jerry Relph (14, R), 651-296-6455
Julie A. Rosen (23, R), 651-296-5713, sen.julie.rosen@senate.mn
Paul J. Utke (02, R), 651-296-9651
Melissa H. Wiklund (50, DFL), 651-297-8061, sen.melissa.wiklund@senate.mn


Monday Hearing Notice:
Monday, March 27, 2017
Committee on Health and Human Services
Chairs: Sen. Michelle R. Benson and Sen. Jim Abeler
9:00 AM – Room 1200 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
A delete all amendment and spreadsheet will be posted as soon as it is available.
Spreadsheet and presentation of the HHS omnibus bill will start at 9 am, then the committee will recess at 10:55 for session. Committee will reconvene at noon and take public testimony. Please email Matt.Spellman@Senate.MN to testify. Please limit testimony to 2 1/2 min and one person per organization to allow the committee to hear from all who want to testify.

And call… Governor Dayton: 651-201-3400
“I am disappointed that you did not include the GAAIN bill in your supplemental budget. Please support it in the upcoming budget negotiations. It is Senate File 791, House File 357. Right now, people across the state of Minnesota – who have been paying taxes for years – can’t get even a basic survival income if we fall on hard times. The GAAIN bill offers hope and dignity to people in need.”

Background information on the GAAIN bill.

Give Aid to All In Need! The Welfare Rights Committee’s GAAIN Bill – House File 357 and Senate File 791 is still alive this legislative session.

In an unexpected victory on Feb. 27, the GAAIN bill was heard in the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy, and passed on for possible inclusion in the budget bill.

The GAAIN bill extends state-funded General Assistance to people who have NO INCOME, but can’t get any cash assistance at all. These us, are our families, friends and neighbors who can’t get cash from unemployment benefits, disability, welfare, or any other program, under current law. They are unemployed and looking for work. But they have no cash to live on… or even to couch surf with a bit of dignity.

The GAAIN bill includes families who have been cut off because of the 5-year limit on MFIP (welfare for families with children). Right now, it is up the “discrimination” of individual counties to decide if families that have hit the time limit can get an extension. If not, the families – including the children – get no cash.

Passing the GAAIN would help families and individuals statewide. In greater Minnesota, the seasonal and/or boom-and-bust economy leaves many people with nothing during hard times. If we are renters, we risk losing our housing by taking in destitute family members and friends. Small towns and poor neighborhoods will directly benefit from the GAAIN bill, as residents give back to the local economy. And, because of historical racist policies, MN people of color face one of the largest income disparities in the nation.

There is a reason that Trump won. Regular working and poor people have been feeling ripped off and ignored for a long time, by both parties. But we know that Trump, and the billionaires he speaks for, are bad for all of us. So let’s turn this ship around. Tell politicians to do something that will really help the people in need.

GAAIN is our assault on the Trump agenda.
The GAAIN bill is a concrete way to say no to the billionaires’ agenda. Despite Trump’s campaign rhetoric, we all know that his plans mean cuts to programs for regular poor and working people nationwide. We have been here before. Trump’s plans to dismantle Medicaid are almost a mirror image of the Clinton 1996 welfare “reform” – block grants to the states, combined with cuts to health care eligibility and work requirements. In the long run, plans like this cost state taxpayers a lot of money and human beings a lot suffering.
Pass the GAAIN bill! Make your calls now!

GAAIN bill introduced. Senate Hearing on Feb. 27

GAAIN bill introduced – Senate Hearing on Feb. 27

Give Aid to All In Need! The Welfare Rights Committee’s GAAIN bill has been introduced in the MN state legislature – House File 357 and Senate File 791.

It is scheduled for a Senate hearing on
Monday, Feb. 27, at 3:00 p.m.
MN Senate Building Room 1200.

We are calling on all supporters to join us at the hearing . Due to the Trump whiplash, there are many great protests and events in the upcoming days, but this hearing is a concrete way to stand up to the billionaires’ agenda of pushing down poor and working people.

The GAAIN bill extends state-funded General Assistance to people who have NO INCOME, but can’t get any cash assistance at all. These are our families, friends and neighbors who can’t get cash from unemployment benefits, disability, welfare, or any other program, under current law. They are unemployed an looking for work. But they have no cash to live on… or even to couch surf with a bit of dignity.

Even if GAAIN passes, we declare that General Assistance in itself is not enough. It pays only $203 per month – but it is better than nothing. The Welfare Rights Committee is also looking for sponsor for our bill to more than double the welfare grants – which have not been increased since 1986.

The GAAIN bill would also give money to families who have been cut off because of the 5-year limit on MFIP (welfare for families with children). Right now, it is up the “discrimination” of individual counties to decide if families that have hit the time limit can get an extension. If not, the families – including the children – get no cash.

Passing the GAAIN would help families and individuals statewide. In greater Minnesota, the seasonal and/or boom-and-bust economy leaves many people with nothing during hard times. If we are renters, we risk losing our housing by taking in destitute family members and friends. Small towns and poor neighborhoods will directly benefit from the GAAIN bill, as residents give back to the local economy.

There is a reason that Trump won. Regular working and poor people have been feeling ripped off and ignored for a long time, by both parties. But we know that Trump, and the billionaires he speaks for, are bad for all of us. So let’s turn this ship around. Tell politicians to do something that will really help the people in need.

Pass the GAAIN bill!

January 3, 2017. Opening Day at the capitol… Day of Reckoning.

Tell politicians, Stop the War on the Poor!
Protest
Tuesday, January 3
12:00 noon
MN State Capitol
100 MLK Drive, by the capitol bus stop – look for our bright green signs

After a short outdoor rally, we will march in formation to every legislators’ office and deliver our messages.

On Tuesday, January 3, 2017, the politicians start back at the MN State Capitol in St. Paul. Let’s be there when they walk in the door. We are sick our people being homeless and suffering, with next to nothing to live on. Lots of us in need can’t get any help at all.  We are sick of government “Of the Rich, By the Rich and For the Rich.” The Welfare Rights Committee will push for our idea for new state laws to ,”Give Aid to All in Need. Double the Welfare Grants.”

To hell with Trump’s agenda.
The Welfare Rights Committee is ready to fight against every racist, sexist and disrespectful attack on our families. We know that some backward idiots are all hyped by Trump’s election. The Welfare Rights Committee will stand up to fiercely to each and every attack that these right wing jerks try to throw at us. This is a time of reckoning!

Fight Cuts to Poor and Working People!
Facebook event
Download the flier

flier-1-3-2017bpicture of flier for opening day 2017

Fundraiser for WRC Nov. 18

Fundraiser for the Welfare Rights Committee
Friday, Nov 18
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

At the home of Sarah Martin
622 8th Ave SE, Minneapolis

Thousands of dollars are spent on tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Every year the US spends billions of dollars on war and occupations around the world. Meanwhile, 70,000 children in Minnesota live in extreme poverty. The Welfare Rights Committee (WRC) is one of very few voices advocating for money to be spend on those who need it, poor and working poor families.

The Welfare Rights Committee is the only group fighting to get more money those who need it – we have bills at the capitol to “Double the Welfare Grants” and to “Give Aid to All in Need.” Our fight has gotten real money in the pockets of poor Minnesotans in the past, and we need your support so we can keep up the fight for more.

This is where you can help make a difference in the lives of poor Minnesotans. Your financial contributions will help ensure that we can continue to organize, continue to have a hot meal and childcare at our meetings to eliminate barriers to getting involved, continue to keep an office and phone.

If you can’t attend the fundraiser, you can mail a donation to Welfare Rights Committee at 4200 Cedar Ave, Ste 4, Minneapolis, MN, 55407.

We are working with PayPal for an online payment solution, which should happen soon!

Aug. 22 – Clinton’s welfare ‘reform’ is STILL a disaster. Speak out!

Save the date – Monday, Aug. 22, 9 a.m. – the 20th anniversary of Clinton’s welfare ‘reform.’ On Aug. 22, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed “Welfare Reform” into law. Hillary did not speak out against it then, and isn’t now. Join with Welfare Rights Committee members as we say, “Clinton’s welfare reform is (still) a disaster!”

Press Conference and Protest against welfare ‘reform’
Monday, Aug. 22nd, 2016
9:00 a.m.
Minneapolis Federal Building
300 S 4th Street, downtown Mpls.

Facebook event. Click for flier.

Background info:

Clinton’s Welfare ‘Reform’. 20 years later…
STILL a Disaster

20 years ago, on August 22, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the racist, sexist, anti-child, welfare reform into law. Since then we have been suffering. We demand Hillary Clinton pledge to overturn Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform!

  • 5-year lifetime limit on welfare – even for kids.
    Family cap that punished babies for being born. (The Welfare Rights Committee overturned this in Minnesota!)
    Work requirements and workfare, but not real jobs with living wages.
    Sanctions. Drug tests. Cuts to immigrants.
    Cuts to food stamps. 3-month limit in a 3-year period for most adults.
    No entitlement. It used to be, if your income was low, you could get help. Now it’s up to the “discrimination” of the county.
    Money going to agencies, instead of to our families.

The Welfare Rights Committee has been fighting, and sometimes winning, in forcing the state of MN to stop some of the worst parts of Clinton’s Welfare Reform. But we still say it is bad for children and families and must be undone.

We demand Hillary Clinton pledge to overturn the Clinton Welfare Reform!

2016: They failed. Action at the capitol May 21.

Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m.
End of session action at the capitol.
Meet at Rice St. Green Line station.

It is likely that the session won’t be ended by May 21. In place of the regular WRC meeting, we will be going office-to-office at the capitol to hand out our “money” fliers.
The politicians spent their time and money on bills that do nothing to help the poorest of the poor in MN. Join us to let them know that we will be back, spring, summer, fall and winter, until they Give Aid to All in Need!

A note to MN legislators: You failed this year. So, in 2017, Give Aid to All in Need!

The Welfare Rights Committee’s bill to Give Aid to All in Need – the GAAIN bill, SF1426/HF1533 should have passed this year.

Pass GAAIN in 2017
GAAIN expands state-funded General Assistance to cover
— adults with no income who are looking for work, and
— families who have hit the 5-year limit on welfare.

The problem:
— There are thousands of people in need who, under this state’s laws, don’t qualify for any cash assistance at all and are homeless, cashless and have to scrounge for handouts. We are sick of ourselves, our  friends and our families suffering with nothing!
— Now, Minnesotans can only get General Assistance ($203/mo) if we can prove a disability and have no children.
— Childless adults can only get SNAP (food stamps) for 3 months in a 3 year period.
— The 5-year limit on welfare hits whole families.
— There are people ashamed to admit a disability and won’t even try for General Assistance, so…

Take a burden off of low & middle-income families.
— We are losing our rental housing by taking in our homeless, cashless, friends and family.
— Our friends, family (or we ourselves) need help, but can’t even get started…because there is no cash help to provide stability.

You know this is a problem that affects people statewide.
Make passing the GAAIN bill a priority in 2017.

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.

What about the poor? Hear the GAAIN bill.

Join WRC members on Monday, April 11, 11:45 a.m., outside the hearing room at 1200 MSB. Call or text 612-822-8020 to check if the Senators have changed the room or the time.

Since the session began, legislators have been hearing many bills that will help certain sectors of professionals who are trying to “fix us”. For example, on April 11, the Senate Finance Sub-committee on Equity will be hearing a slew of bills that will benefit the non-profit industry. But none of those bills give poor people what we need now: Cash to survive on. The GAAIN (Give Aid to All in Need) bill – Senate File 1426/House File 1533 – addresses extreme poverty statewide (urban and rural). When you have nothing, you are shut out of almost everything. The especially affects communities of color – because of historic economic disparities, our families, neighbors and friends don’t have the wealth to sustain the very poor without endangering themselves.

Low-income people need actual cash help now. We don’t need yet another list of programs that make liberals feel good about themselves. The proposed programs (while they might help a few of us) would mostly help well-off professionals. We say, Pass the GAAIN bill. Double the MFIP & GA grants. The GAAIN bill will give the most unfortunate some “breathing space” so people can start a meaningful hunt for housing and jobs…and to begin to have a hope to access the programs proposed on the list of bills being heard at the capitol.

Double the grants! MFIP and GA grants haven’t had true cost-of-living increase in 30 years. Support the bill to Double the Grants: SF432/HF58.  After WRC proposed doubling the grants 3 years ago, the governor and some legislators are finally taking baby steps towardds this. But both the GA and MFIP grants should be doubled, this year, with cost of living increases built into the future.

Give Aid to All in Need. Double the Grants!

Call-in week to ‘Give Aid to All in Need.’ The GAAIN bill deserves to be heard!

Please call Senator Kathy Sheran at 651-296-6153.
You could say, “Please schedule a hearing for Senator Chris Eaton’s GAAIN bill, Senate File 1426, before the policy committee deadline. There are too many people in this state suffering with nothing, and the bill deserves a hearing.”

The GAAIN bill would make it so that people have no income and who are looking for work can get General Assistance. This would include families who have hit the 5-year limit on welfare and also people whose unemployment insurance has timed out.

April 1 is the deadline for our GAAIN bill to be heard in the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing. The GAAIN bill deserves the respect to be granted a hearing in policy committee this year. Scaredy-cat politicians whine about how this is a “short session,” or that are “zero targets”

, but we shouldn’t cave to their attempts to manipulate us into giving up.

People’s basic survival should not be held hostage to politicians who don’t have the courage to use the $900+ million surplus to get us, our family members, friends and our community members out of desperate poverty. They are hearing plenty of bills to give big bucks to agencies that will maybe ‘help’ us, and to other things that actually harm our communities (like more prisons). But what people who have no cash ‘really need’ is money in our pockets, now!

Please call Senator Sheran at 651-296-6153 and ask her to hear the GAAIN bill.

“Short session” – means the legislative session started late. They also say it is “not a budget year,” but yet they are talking about giving tax breaks to the rich and spending more money on prisons.

“Zero targets” – means that the ‘leaders’ of the House and Senate will be saying that the state
money allowed for Health and Human services will not go up this year. But for years, they have been robbing the poor. We need the hearing in Senator Sheran’s policy committee to show them what the dire need is.