Our bills were introduced on Opening Day – Feb. 25, 2014! Please contact your legislators and ask them to support our bill to “Increase the welfare grants in 2014.” The Senate bill is SF1693. The House bill is HF2191.
Here is what you could say:
“It’s been 28 years…Raise the MFIP grants now. 70,000 MN kids live in EXTREME poverty. This is not an accident. It is a failure to act.
Welfare (MFIP) cash grants for the poorest families have not been increased since 1986 – 28 years ago. The cost of living has doubled since 1986. The monthly cash grant for a family of two is $437 per month – not enough to pay rent for legal housing in most towns (much less other needs).
The annual federal TANF block grant should be used 100% for poor families’ grants – but most of it is being siphoned off for other things.
This extreme poverty has a devastating effect on children, who are the majority of MFIP recipients.
Do the right thing. Raise the grants. Support the bills to increase MFIP grants in 2014. Senate File 1693 and House File 2191.”
1. Special call-in Day to Governor Dayton
Wednesday, Jan. 29
The day that we deliver hundreds of postcards to the governor’s office
Call Governor Mark Dayton:
Call in the morning if you can!
— 70,000 Minnesota kids live in “extreme poverty,” because welfare grants haven’t been increased since 1986 – 28 years ago!
— Use the budget surplus to pay back the money taken from TANF (“tan-ef”) over the years.
— Use TANF money for TANF families: Raise the grants NOW.
2. Postcard delivery to governor – Jan. 29
Empty plates at the governor’s office to demand:
Dayton, serve up the surplus! Take action for poor women and families!
Wednesday, Jan. 29
Governor’s office in the State Capitol
Wednesday, January 29 the Welfare Rights Committee (WRC) will have a press conference in front of Governor Mark Dayton’s office. Dayton will be presented with close to 900 postcards, served up on paper plates, demanding that he take action to increase the welfare grants in 2014.
For too long the poorest families have paid for budget shortfalls. Now there is a surplus, and it should go the poorest of the poor. Currently there are over 70,000 Minnesota children living in EXTREME poverty, because grants for families on MFIP (Minnesota’s welfare program) have not been increased since 1986…28 years ago.
The WRC will be there to say, “Dayton, serve up the surplus to those who need it most.” WRC is putting forward a bill that would provide for immediate increases in MFIP payments. The bill would move up the start-date of our housing allowance and family cap repeal that passed last session. It also puts federal TANF funds back into the pool for TANF families – instead of the current practice of TANF being used for the General Fund or other programs generally focused on the poor that were once paid for by the state.
Opening Day Protest
Tuesday, Feb. 25
MN State Capitol
On Opening Day, tell MN legislators…
— Raise the Welfare Grants
— No more cuts
— Tax the rich
— Quit stealing poor kids’ money
February 25, 2014 is the day the MN politicians start back at the capitol.The Welfare Rights Committee is fighting for our bill to become law this year. We call for…
1. Making our 2013 victory of a $110 per month housing allowance go into effect NOW. We can’t wait until Oct. 2015!
2. Making our Family Cap victory happen NOW, not 2015. Don’t punish babies for being born!
3. TANF money for TANF families! Stop stealing federal TANF $ to pay for things that state $ should be paying for. Use all TANF $ to Raise the Grants now!
“12 Days of Poverty” protest at Governor’s Mansion
Wednesday, Dec. 18
Governor Dayton’s mansion
1006 Summit Ave, St. Paul
— Tell Governor Dayton what 27 years without a grant increase means for poor kids in MN.
— Give the Budget Surplus to the poor!
Click for flier!
Governor Dayton and the politicians have continually chosen to keep our families and children in extreme poverty instead of raising the MFIP (MN Family Investment Plan) grants
Since 1986, the MFIP grants have not been raised. Families have been receiving the same monthly amount for 27 years. A Family of 2 received $437/ month in 1986 and still receives $437/ month in 2013.
Since 1986, the cost of living has doubled, workers have gotten raises, and social security benefits have gotten raises while families receiving assistance have not! This is criminal!
Please join us to send a message to the Governor that our families need an increase now!
$264 million: Show us the money!
$264 million is what the state of MN gets every year from Washington DC for welfare poor families on MFIP. But less than 1/4 of it goes to cash grants for poor families. The federal money is called the TANF Block Grant. The state of MN is using the TANF money for things that should be funded by state money, and they try to hide this stealing from the public. We say politicians should ‘Use TANF Money for TANF Families’ and increase the welfare grants!
House of Representatives Update: On April 12 the House Health and Human passed an amendment that would provide a grant increase for people who have high housing costs! Thanks to everyone who called and emailed Rep. Huntley and your own legislators!
Senate Update: On Monday, April 8, the Senate Health and Human Services Finance Division voted to consider SF165, the bill to increase the MFIP grants, for possible inclusion into the omnibus bill. Senator Lourey will present his final proposal on Monday, April 15.
Contact Senator Tony Lourey. Urge him to include a substantial MFIP grant increase in the Senate HHS final budget bill.
Please remind him that the money is there, in the TANF fund, if only it was used for the right thing. Click here for info on where the TANF money going.
–Thousands of children in Minnesota are living in extreme poverty. One bill could change all that.
–The cash grants for children and their caregivers in Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) have not been increased since 1986 – 27 years ago.
–Meanwhile the cost of living has more than DOUBLED since 1986.
–The federal money that is supposed to go to poor families (the TANF money) has been raided year after year for other things – TANF $ should go to TANF families!
TANF $ should be used for TANF families!
Increase the MFIP grants.
According to figures from the DHS, in 2012, only 27% of the annual Federal TANF block grant funds went to cash grants for MN families in poverty. Over the past decade, hundreds of millions of dollars have been taken from Minnesota’s TANF block grant to supplant the General Fund spending that used to go to other programs. Meanwhile, there has been no cash grant increase to families for 27 years.
- Only $73 million of the $263 million TANF grant went to family cash grants.
- $71 million was directly transferred to other funds.
- $101 million went to “Support Services.”
- $12 million went to the Health Department
- $2.5 million went to other programs, not related to cash grants.
- $ 4.8 million went to administration.
Some of these are worthy programs, but why take money that should be going directly to the 70,000 children who are living in EXTREME poverty?
- $101 million of TANF for Support Services – $30 million more than goes to cash grants. The DHS list of “Support Services” includes things like Adult Basic Education, GED, job training, work search and “help accessing other services.” Why is the money coming out of TANF to pay for education? Why isn’t that money coming from the education budget like it does for everyone else? Why is money coming out of TANF for job search and work-related activities, instead of coming out of the Dept that deals with employment – the Department that deals with everyone else’s work-related activities?
Meanwhile, the MFIP grants for the poorest of the poor have not been increased since 1986 – 27 years ago.
- $12 million of TANF for studies about “health disparities” and visiting nurses: Why is TANF money going to the medical establishment to look at health disparities, when it’s obvious that extreme poverty is the crushing health problem? Why are visiting nurses being paid for with TANF? Why aren’t these being paid for by the Health Department, like they are for everyone else?
Meanwhile, the MFIP grants keep families 70% below the poverty level, or in “Extreme Poverty”
- $23 million of TANF for the Working Family Credit: Why is TANF paying for the Working Family Tax Credits; why is that not money being covered in the Tax Committee?
Meanwhile, while the grants have been the same since 1986, the cost of living has DOUBLED.
- $44 million of TANF for Childcare and Development: Why is TANF going to Childcare and Development costs? These services should be funded by the General Fund, as they were in the past.
Meanwhile, 70,000 children are living in Extreme Poverty
- $4.7 million of TANF to Federal Title XX: Again, this is TANF money going to the Social Services Block Grant that used to be General Fund.
Meanwhile, a family of 2 gets $437 per month in cash to live on – for rent, utilities, transportation, clothing, hygiene, school supplies, laundry, transportation…everything.
The legislature is putting education as a big priority this year. How are our children, who are living in extreme poverty, supposed to get any kind of education when they don’t a stable roof over their heads, when they don’t have food, when they are in constant transition, constant crisis and undergoing constant stress? You can put all the money you want into education, but if you are dealing with hunger, homelessness and childhood stress, you don’t have much of a chance for success.
Increasing the grants will save money.
Homelessness: The monthly MFIP cash grant for a family of 2 is $437 – not enough to even pay for “couch surfing,” when you have kids. The monthly cost for family in a Hennepin county homeless shelter is over $3000 per month.
Other Costs: You can also figure the cost from poverty-stricken families to the networks for health crises, domestic violence, food shelves, crisis nurseries etc.
Finally, raising the grants will get families off welfare and into work much faster. Being trapped in extreme poverty puts families in a deep hole that is nearly impossible to get out of. It’s hard to look for work when we can’t keep our phones on, when we are moving from place to place, when we don’t have money for transportation, hygiene, laundry, or anything else.
Give back the TANF money to TANF families.
Increase the welfare grants. We call on the Governor, the House and the Senate to undo the years of the TANF shift to other areas. Do what needs to be done to give back the TANF money to TANF families. The present and future for 70,000 Minnesota children would be brighter with your action.
Welfare Rights Committee – 612-822-8020
Wednesday to Friday, March 13-15: Please call MN House and Senate leadership.
Tell them to include money for a welfare grant increase when they set the “budget targets.”
Soon, the leadership of the MN House and the Senate will decide how much money they will give to the entire Health and Human Services budget. This is the budget that includes welfare (MFIP) for poor families. Once they make that decision, it is hard to get more money added to the target. So we have to make sure that poor families are not robbed, for the umpteenth year in a row.
Please call the Senate Leadership and House Leadership. Also, please call your own legislator, ask him or her to advocate for this message in caucus. 27 years is too long to go without a grant increase!
Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Thissen, 651-296-5375
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Tom Bakk, 651-296-8881
House Majority Leader Rep. Erin Murphy, 651-296-8799
Senate Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Katie Sieben, 651-297-8060
House Majority Whip Rep. John Persell, 651-296-5516
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Jeff Hayden, 651-296-4261
Click here to find your legislators.
To start with, call Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk. But please take time to call them all, if you can!
“I ask that you support a significant increase to the MFIP [“EM-fip”] grant in Minnesota. Specifically, when you set budget targets, I ask that you include enough funding for an MFIP grant increase in the Health and Human Services budget.
MFIP is the cash assistance program for children and their parents. Those grants have not increased for 27 years. The same as it was in 1986, the cash grant for a family of two is still $437 a month. If the grants had kept up with inflation, they would more than DOUBLE.
The money is there. Last year only 28% of the federal dollars given to Minnesota for welfare — the TANF [“TAN-ef”] fund – went directly to poor MN families in cash grants. TANF money should go to TANF families.
Please support families – including 70,000 children – by including funding for a substantial grant increase in the HHS budget target.”
Click here for more information on why we need to “Raise the Grants!”
Legislative audio and video coverage on our battle to raise the grants
Last week was an eventful one for our bill to increase grants.
On Monday, we testified at the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Policy Committee. Our bill passed on to the Senate Finance Division. Click here to hear the audio recording (start at 1:08; it lasts about 64 minutes).
On Tuesday, several legislators held a press conference on the $437 Challenge. Click to view the partial video of $437 Challenge press conference.
Legislators’ “$437 Challenge” Press conference
Tuesday, March 5, 2:30 p.m. (press conf. starts at 2:40)
State Capitol Building Room 125
Several legislators have agreed to take the “$437 Challenge!” Please come and show your support! The event won’t last long (busy time for legislators at the capitol), so plan to get there before 2:30 so you don’t miss it!
For one week, they will try to live on the amount of cash that an MFIP family lives on. If the legislators can find a willing family member, those 2 would have about $101 to get by on for the week. If they go solo, that senator or representative would get $51 in cash to live on for a week.
With this amount of cash, they would have to pay rent, mortgage, utility bills, phone, children’s school costs, transportation (bus, gas, insurance, parking), clothes, additional food costs when food stamps run out, hygiene and household supplies, laundry costs, etc.
In trying to persuade legislators to take up the challenge, the Welfare Rights Committee noted that we don’t expect them to lose their housing, indeed we expect that they most likely won’t “succeed” — the aim is to expose how low Minnesota’s welfare grants are, and to report back on their experience.
The cash grants for welfare/MFIP have not been increased for 27 years. A child and caregiver get a maximum of $437 per month. Two children and a parent get a maximum of $532 per month. It is virtually impossible to find family housing for that amount, much less have anything left over the rest of the family’s needs.
Here is a list of who has agreed to take the challenge:
State Senator Chris Eaton
State Senator John Marty
Other legislators have declared that they cannot do the challenge, but will show up at Tuesday’s press conference in support.
On Monday, March 4, the bill to increase the grants, SF165, passed the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing. Tuesday’s “$437 Challenge” press conference is another step forward to undo 27 years of inaction.