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.
Monday, March 4 at 12:00 noon: A Hearing on our bill to “Raise the Grants!”
We did it – our bill is getting its first committee hearing. Please try to attend the hearing to show support!
Monday, March 4
State Capitol Building Room G-15
Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing
Our bill, Senate File 165 will be heard, along with another important bill, SF245, which repeals the “family cap.” Members of the Welfare Rights Committee and our allies will be testifying. 27 years is too long! It’s time to raise the grants!
For more information on about our bill, click here: https://welfarerightsmn.com/2013/02/14/why-we-need-to-raise-the-mfip-grants/
1986 to 2013…..27 Years is Too Long
Bring Minnesota’s Children Out of Extreme Poverty
We call on you to end extreme poverty for all of Minnesota’s children this year. It can be done.
• 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.
In 1986, a family of two (a parent and a child) received $437 per month in cash to live on. Today, that same family of two still only gets $437. The result is homelessness and hunger. It is impossible to find housing for $437 a month. One or two percent is not enough – by rights the cash grants should be doubled.
• Currently, families on MFIP (Minnesota’s welfare program for families with children) live at 70% below the federal poverty level. Even doubling the grants would still keep MN families below the poverty level. If the grants were doubled, families would be at 30% below the poverty level.
• The money is there. If the entire federal TANF block grant was used for cash grants for MN families who qualify for welfare as it was intended, the welfare grants could nearly be doubled—bringing them almost to a level that matches the cost of living. The governor and legislators talked about paying back the school funding shift, but it is also time to talk about paying back the TANF funding shift.
• In 2012, only 27% of the yearly Federal Block TANF funds went to cash grants for MN families in poverty. TANF is the yearly block grant that MN gets from the federal government to fund its welfare program. Over the past decade, billions of dollars from Minnesota’s TANF block grant have been taken from TANF to supplant general fund spending on other programs. Meanwhile MN welfare families have been living in desperate conditions, becoming homeless, living doubled and tripled up with others, and being forced to make terrible choices.
• The amount of state dollars that go to cash assistance for poor children & families is less than 1/4 of 1%. Out of the whole state budget, it’s 1/10 of 1%.
• The average age of homeless individuals in Minnesota is age 7.
• In addition to NO increase, MN cash grants have been cut year after year. Over the past years, these extreme poverty cash grants have been further reduced with sanctions, penalties for living in subsidized housing, a family cap and a five year lifetime limit.
• Especially in these tough economic times, welfare is a working person’s issue. When Unemployment Insurance runs out, parents are shocked to find out that they still don’t qualify for welfare; because they are “not poor enough.” In most cases, welfare is the unemployment insurance for those of us who have no choice but to work seasonal jobs and temporary jobs.
Welfare is poor peoples’ unemployment insurance. When we don’t have enough work quarters to qualify for unemployment, welfare is the last stop to receive any type of help. Welfare is a working person’s issue because welfare sets the floor where wages can’t fall below.
• When women and their children escape from an abusive situation, many times the only means of support is welfare. If welfare isn’t there, women and children can be forced to stay with their abuser.
• Raising the cash assistance grants is the right thing to do and it makes sense.
-MN children’s’ health and well being, education and potential will dramatically improve overnight.
-It is good for Minnesota’s economy-families will buy needed items, putting money back into the economy
-Homelessness, hunger, health crises, domestic violence and poverty cost much more.
-It will free up more affordable housing- if families in subsidized housing have more money.
-It will help families get 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 is nearly impossible to look for work and apply for jobs (if there are jobs) when we can’t keep our phones on, when we are moving from one place to another and have no consistent address, when we don’t have money for transportation, or when we are living in a shelter.
FFI: Welfare Rights Committee 612-822-8020 or welfarerightsmn.com
This week: Two days of events at the Capitol to “Raise the Welfare Grants!”
We are plugging away with our effort to substantially increase the welfare grants in the state of Minnesota. We are getting signers on our bill to “Double the Grants” (18 House members have signed on so far), and it will be introduced soon in the House and the Senate. Governor Dayton did not include a grant increase in his budget proposal, so we have to count on the House and the Senate to do the right thing after 27 years without an increase to the welfare grants.
This week, we have 3 public actions. Please read below for more info, and try to attend as many as you can!
1. Wednesday, Jan. 30, 8:30 a.m. – Public Testimony on Gov. Dayton’s budget in the Senate
Senate Health and Human Services Finance Division
State Capitol Building, ++Room changed to 123
Gov. Dayton’s budget did not include a welfare grant increase. Nor did it undo any of the cuts to welfare that families have been suffering under for the past several years. The Senate Health and Human will be taking public testimony on the governor’s budget proposal on Wednesday morning. The Welfare Rights Committee will be testifying. If you are interested in testifying on Governor Dayton’s Health and Human Services budget in the Senate HHS Finance Division, here is what you have to do: “If you would like to testify, please email your name, organization, and the topic area for your testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on Tuesday, January 29th.”
2. Wednesday, Jan. 30, 10:00 a.m. – Public Hearing on Gov. Dayton’s budget in the House
House Health and Human Services Finance Committee
State Office Building, Room 200
Please join us to let the Reps know what we think of the Governor’s budget proposal! ++update Jan. 29 – testimony will be next week.
3. Thursday, Jan. 31, 2:45 p.m. -$437 Challenge/Raise the Grants action outside the House Chambers at the Capitol
We will know of any changes to this on Monday night. We’ll let the list know if it changes.
Join us in our final push to get more Representatives to sign on to our bill to “Double the Grants.” Also, we will be asking Reps to take part in our $437 Challenge – seeing who could live on $437 per month. We will hold a press conference at 2:45. As the Representatives enter the chamber, we will give them information and ask them to sign our bill. This is a great opportunity to hold a sign, learn the process and take a stand!
Dayton budget proposal fails some the poorest families in MN.
MN welfare grants will be essentially unchanged after 27 years without an increase.
January 22, 2013
Today, Governor Mark Dayton presented his 2014-2015 budget to the public. It goes a small way to undo some of the tax inequality that poor and working people have been suffering under – but his proposals are only a drop in the ocean compared to the massive tax breaks rich have enjoyed year after year. And once again, poor and working people will see little relief to all of the cuts inflicted on us under the past administrations.
A shameful part of the budget proposal is how it fails the poorest families in Minnesota, by not calling for a substantial increase in MN’s welfare cash grants.
Welfare grants have not been increased since 1986 – 27 years ago. Meanwhile the cost of living has DOUBLED since 1986. In 1986, a family of two (a parent and a child) received $437 per month in cash to live on. Today, that same family of two still only gets $437. One or two percent is not enough – by rights the welfare grants should be doubled.
The governor pays back the school funding shift, but it is also time to talk about paying back the TANF funding shift. TANF is the yearly block grant that MN gets from the federal government to fund its welfare program. Year after year TANF dollars have been raided to supplant general fund spending. Right now, there is almost enough money in the federal TANF block grant to double the grants in 2013, if it were use for poor families.
Especially in these tough economic times, welfare is a working person’s issue. When Unemployment Insurance runs out, parents are shocked to find out that they still don’t qualify for welfare; because they are “not poor enough.” In most cases, welfare is the unemployment insurance for those of us who have no choice but to work seasonal jobs and temporary jobs.
Even doubling the grants would keep MN families below the poverty level. Currently, families on MFIP (Minnesota’s welfare program for families with children) live 70% below the federal poverty level. If the grants were doubled, we would still be 30% below the poverty level. That is why we say doubling the grants is only a start.
The Welfare Rights Committee, supported by dozens of other organizations, has a bill to double the welfare grants. The bill will be introduced soon. We don’t care what the governor’s budget says; we will call on legislators to do the right thing. It is time to use TANF money for TANF families. It is time to double the grants.
27 years is too long! Give back the TANF money to TANF families. Increase the welfare grants in the state of Minnesota.
Our opening day speech is below. Click here for the opening day handout we gave to legislators. For photos, check out our various facebook pages.
We are here, on the opening day of the 2013 legislative session, to say, “Justice for poor and working people! Undo the cuts! Tax the rich! Raise the welfare grants!”
2013 is the year to get justice for our families. Now is the time to undo 27 years of shoving poor families aside. This is the year to demand that the legislators behind these marble walls do the right thing and increase the welfare grants in the state of Minnesota!
Welfare grants have not been increased since 1986 – 27 years ago! In 1986 the monthly cash grant for a family of 2 was…$437. Today, in 2013, the maximum cash grant is still…$437. This is an outrage! The cost of living has more than doubled since 1986, but the poorest of the poor in MN are stuck living 70% below the poverty line. We say, “Double the Welfare Grants!”
In the past 27 years, the richest in this state got billions of dollars in tax breaks, Yet poor and working people have seen cut after cut after cut. In 1986, there was a 1% increase in the welfare grants. It wasn’t enough then, not it’s enough now.
In recent years, the rich got richer through outright theft: By stealing our homes through foreclosure, by driving down wages, by ripping through the veins of mother earth and piping toxins across our land, by busting unions and by killing people in their wars for profit. They imprison our young people and try to steal our right to vote. They steal people’s homes, lands and basic sustenance here and abroad. They try to prosecute us for raising our voices against their crimes.
We are sick of it, and it is time to fight back! We are sick of seeing homeless shelters overflowing. We are sick of seeing children living in poverty. Enough of women being forced in with abusers. No more to families doubled and tripled up in tiny apartments. Stop stomping on parents who are struggling every minute of every day to survive. Quit putting out sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, friends and families through this abuse!
We are glad that the Republicans were defeated in the 2012 elections. But that doesn’t mean our battles will be easy. We know who calls the shots behind these capitol walls – and they are paid big bucks to keep the people down. Some say we shouldn’t push the Democrats – that we should only beg for the leftover crumbs. We say, “Hell no!”
We were there when politicians from both parties stole the federal funds that were meant for poor Minnesota families. They stole poor people’s money and used it replace state funding for other programs. If that stolen money – the TANF money – went to the families in need, it would almost double the grants.
We call on all of you to join our fight. It will go on day after day, week after week, and month after month. Tell this governor and this legislature to listen to the people for a change.
We refuse to let the rich and politicians who do their bidding to beat us down! We are standing up today for justice! The Welfare Rights Committee has been at the capitol on every opening day since 1993, and we will keep coming back. We all have to keep coming back until these politicians stop listening to the paid lobbyists of the 1% and start listening to what real people and real families need.
Welfare grants for families have not been increased since 1986 – 26 years ago.
If Minnesota’s welfare grants kept up with inflation, MFIP (MN’s welfare program for families) grants would be DOUBLE what they are now, according to the government’s own Consumer Price Index calculator.
In 1986, a family of 2 got $437 to live on. In 2012, a family of two still gets $437. This is a crime against families and children. That means, for the past 26 years, MN politicians decided to sentence children to poverty and homelessness.
The money is there — in 2011 only 28% of the federal dollars given to Minnesota for welfare went directly to poor MN families in cash grants.
The Welfare Rights Committee intends to fight for a grant increase by initiating and fighting for legislation to raise the grants in 2013!
Opening Day Protest at the capitol
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
11:30 until 1:00
MN State Capitol – Front steps & Rotunda
Gather at 11:30 to greet the legislators on their way in. Rally starts around noon
January 8, 2013 is the day the MN politicians start back at the the capitol. Lets be they arrive to tell them…
Raise the Welfare Grants!
No More Cuts!
Tax the Rich!
Click here to see the opening day flier