Tagged: welfare rights

Call House & Senate Leadership March 13-15

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!

Sample message:
“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!”
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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 – March 5

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 Patricia Torres Ray

State Senator Chris Eaton

State Senator John Marty

State Representative Karen Clark

State Representative Susan Allen

State Representative Carolyn Laine

State Representative Alice Hausman

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.

SF165 passes Senate policy Committee March 4

On Monday, March 4, the bill to increase the grants, SF165, passed the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing.

The next step in the Senate is the Senator Lourey’s Health and Human Services Finance Division.

Please sign up for Welfare Rights Committee email alerts to get notices as our bill winds through the process!

Senate Committee hearing on Bill to Raise the Grants Monday, March 4

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
12:00 noon
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/

Call for a Hearing! Call legislators Feb. 27 and Feb. 28, 2013

Urgent: Bills to Increase the Welfare Grants in Minnesota Need to Be Heard in Committee!

CALL- IN THIS WEEK. WEDNESDAY February 27th & THURSDAY February 28th.

Welfare Rights Committee has been working hard to get a bill passed through the 2013 Legislative Session. We have had meetings with the Gov’s office, Dept of Human Services and many politicians to stress to them why it is very important to raise the welfare grants this year. We were able to secure authors in the Senate and House and get the bills introduced. NOW we need them to give the bills a hearing in the Health and Human Services Committees. We need the Democrat Leadership to a stand for poor and working families and children. We need to pressure them to support the bills.

1) CALL DFL House Committee Chairs and Request a Hearing on Bill HF433 to increase MFIP (welfare) cash grants for families in poverty

–Representative Tina Leibling (Chair of House Health Human Services Policy Committee) 651-296-0573, rep.tina.liebling@house.mn

–Representative Tom Huntley (Chair of House Health Human Services Finance Cmtee) 651-296-2228, rep.thomas.huntley@house.mn

Sample Message for the House committee chairs:

“I ask you and the DFL to support a significant increase to the MFIP grant in Minnesota and give the bill to increase the grants, HF433, a hearing in your committee in time to meet the deadlines.”

2) CALL DFL Senate Committee Chairs and Request a Hearing on Bill SF165 to increase MFIP (welfare) cash grants for families in poverty

–Senator Kathleen Sheran ( Chair of Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Policy Committee) 651-296-6153 sen.kathy.sheran@senate.mn

–Senator Tony Lourey (Chair of Senate Health Human Services Finance Division) 651-296-0293 sen.tony.lourey@senate.mn

Sample Message for Senate committee chairs:

“I ask you and the DFL to support a significant increase to the MFIP grant in Minnesota and give the bill to increase the grants, SF165, a hearing in your committee in time to meet the deadlines.”

3) At any time, please CALL your legislators and ask them to support and pass the first increase in Minnesota’s MFIP cash grants in 27 years.

To find your Senator and Representative and contact info: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/

Background Info/Talking Points:

  • 100,000 receive welfare (MFIP) cash assistance every month in MN.
  • 70,000 of this number are children.
  • Minnesota’s cash assistance grants put families at 70% below the federal poverty level.
  • This means that 70,000 MN children are living in what is considered EXTREME POVERTY.
  • Even if the grants were doubled, families would still be 30% below the federal poverty level. MFIP Cash Grants have not been increased since 1986- 27 years.
  • The cost of living has more than doubled since 1986.
  • In 2012, only 27% of the federal dollars from TANF block grant given to MN for welfare, actually went to the cash grants.
  • A family of two receives a cash grant of $437 a month. A family of three receives $532 a month.

Why we need to “Raise the MFIP Grants”

1986 to 2013…..27 Years is Too Long

Bring Minnesota’s Children Out of Extreme Poverty

Dear Legislator,

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

Statement on Gov.’s budget proposal

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.

WRC Jan. 8 2013 opening day speech + handout

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.

Call Governor Dayton: Raise the Welfare Grants! Oct 17-19, 2012

Call-In to Governor Dayton: Raise the Welfare Grants!
651-201-3400
Wednesday October 17th through Friday, Oct 19th

Flood Dayton’s Phone Lines!
651-201-3400
Tell Governor Dayton it is time to Raise the Welfare Grants! 26 years is too long!

Click here for Facebook event.

We are asking Governor Dayton to stand with families in poverty and take the lead on raising the monthly welfare assistance grants. Ask Governor Dayton to put a grant increase in his budget proposal for the 2013 legislative session.

Welfare grants to support families with children have not been increased in Minnesota for the past 26 years! The last grant increase was in 1986.

The state has the money for a grant increase. In 2011, only 28% of the TANF( Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) block grant that is given to the state for welfare actually went directly as cash grants to the parents and children in need.

Background Info:
The assistance grant for a family of 2:
In 1986 = $437 a month
In 2012 = $437 a month

If the grants were adjusted to the cost of living they would be double the amount.
The past decade of state budget deficits have been taken out on poor and working people with billions in cuts to Health and Human Services, while the richest have not paid a dime!