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Welfare Rights Committee testifies against Governor’s budget

by staff |
February 22, 2009
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For more information on the Welfare Rights Committee, visit their website.

St. Paul, MN - The Welfare Rights Committee testified Feb. 18, in front of the Senate Health and Human Services Budget division. The Welfare Rights Committee slammed Governor Pawlenty’s MFIP (Minnesota’s welfare program for families) provisions. A statement from the Committee hit the following proposals:

“Kicking MFIP parents out of education, by mandating 20 hours per week in order to be allowed to go to school. In this job market, that slams the door on education.

Cutting family welfare grants by $125 per month while we are coping with a disabled family member. When a person is on SSI, that money, by federal law, only to be used by the disabled person. This cut either forces SSI fraud, or else it forces disabled people to see the rest of the family suffer because of them.

Cutting family welfare grants by $100 if the family is in subsidized housing. This cut is hard on the family, hard on the landlord, hard on housing stock and hard on every low-income person searching for housing.

Stealing welfare money. The Governor calls it “refinancing” the federal TANF block grant, but we say taking $50 to $56 MILLION per biennium is outright stealing from the poorest of the poor.”

Deb Konechne of the Welfare Rights Committee noted, “Considering that welfare grants have not increased since 1986 and a family of 3 lives on a $532 cash MFIP grant, WRC considers the governor’s proposed cuts unconscionable.”

The Welfare Rights Committee initiated bills that directly counter Governor Pawlenty’s schemes. The bills (SF480 and SF481) put a two-year moratorium on the welfare time limit in these troubled economic times, get rid of the current $50 ‘housing penalty,’ eliminate the family cap (in which a families cash grant does not go up when a baby is born) and make it so more low-income people can qualify for food stamps.

Linden Gawboy, of the Welfare Rights Committee stated, “The federal stimulus package makes it clear that now is not the time to make cuts to basic survival needs for the poor. The governor’s proposal is showing itself to be even more clueless and out of touch. The wealthy have run this country into the ground, despite benefiting from years of tax breaks. It is about time they took a turn at ‘sharing the pain.’”