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HF 927

Minnesota Republicans continue push to make poor people with cash outlaws

Launch more attacks on the poor
By Linden Gawboy and Kim DeFranco |
March 23, 2011
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Welfare Rights Committee rallies at state capitol
Welfare Rights Committee rallies at state capitol. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

St. Paul, MN - Minnesotans packed a hearing room at the Minnesota State Capitol March 23 to speak out against the Republican-sponsored House Health and Human Services Finance bill. The bill, HF 927, cuts many services and programs for low income people, the ill, the elderly and disabled. It also includes provisions that make it so that people on public assistance can only withdraw $20 in cash per month.

Cash is ‘outlawed’

Virginia Amy Weldon testified for the Welfare Rights Committee (WRC), outlining some of the worst attacks to people on public assistance. “Here are just a few reasons why this bill HF927 should be voted down in its entirety. First, the part that makes it illegal for MFIP [Minnesota’s welfare program for families] families and people on General Assistance [the states cash assistance program for disabled people] to withdraw most of the cash from the cash portion of the grant. In fact, it essentially makes it illegal for poor people to possess more than $20 in cash or coin at any given time.”

Weldon continued, “This bill calls for all MFIP and GA business to be transacted via a state-issued debit card, which is so impractical it’s ridiculous. The cost and hassle to landlords and businesses to add EBT terminals across the state would be huge. But the burden placed on the poorest in this state would be worse. You can’t use an EBT to buy postage, do laundry, ride the bus, set up a checking account, pay children’s school fees, pay medical co-pays or many, many other things.”

The WRC’s Kim Hosmer told Fight Back!, “For those of us who live on the limited funds that MFIP and GA provide, and who often use money orders to pay things like our rent or utilities, it makes it nearly impossible for us to pay our bills.”

Jessica Webster, a staff attorney for Legal Aid, testified that the EBT part of the bill was the most harsh and punitive legislation she has ever seen.

Weldon concluded her testimony on the EBT provisions: “In short, this is part of the bill would be laughable - if it weren’t so mean-spirited and insulting.”

‘You can’t leave...and you can’t come in’

HF927 also has two provisions dealing with residency. One says that MFIP recipients can’t use their EBT cash outside the state of Minnesota. The other says that if poor people come into the state, they cannot access their federal/state cash benefits for 90 days. The Welfare Rights Committee and other blasted these proposals.

On the proposal to outlaw using the EBT out of state, Weldon said, “The part of the bill that makes it illegal to withdraw MFIP benefits out of state puts burdens on families who are forced to leave to attend funerals, sick relatives, visit family members in the military, hunt for jobs and all the other things we have to leave home for.”

On the residency requirements, she added, “When we are that broke and desperate, we don’t move to other states for ‘fun’ or for ‘great benefits.’ We move because we have concrete hopes and plans to make a better life. In this time of economic crisis, everyone in this country should have equal rights at survival.”

Legal Aid representatives and others pointed out residency requirements have been proven unconstitutional in the past.

Crawl to the store?

HF927 would make it so that the $20 in cash allowed in the bill could not be withdrawn at ATMs in certain establishments. It also says that only the head of household (not an older child or a personal care attendant) could present the card to a vendor.

Mr. Paulson, who uses a wheelchair, testified, “This is very troublesome. I relied on my PCAs [personal care attendants] to shop for me with my card.” He also said “If I couldn’t get to the store to get money, I would have to go to the local bar and withdraw from their ATM.”

‘$203 per month is too much’

General Assistance (GA) provides a cash benefit of $203 per month. HF927 makes many disabled people illegible for General Assistance and imposes work or volunteer requirements on the rest. Counties would oversee the work programs.

Weldon testified, “This bill blatantly cuts disabled people, minors, caregivers of severely disabled people and many others from the program. General Assistance is not a supplement to other income, it is all people have. It’s GA or zilch.” Hosmer stated, “Let’s remember who is on GA - people who are elderly, or permanently or temporarily disabled and/or waiting to hear from Social Security about their disability claims. They may have been injured, suffered a heart attack, or stroke, or been diagnosed with a life threatening illness.” As for the work/volunteer requirements, Hosmer pointed out that some counties overseeing the work programs would use them as an excuse to dump people from the program.

Many other cuts to all programs

The attacks on welfare recipients were just part of the bill. 90 people - representatives from grassroots organizations, mental health agencies, schools, churches and faith based organizations, hospitals - signed up to testify, the vast majority against the cuts.

Weldon concluded the WRC testimony with, “You must know that a family of three on MFIP gets only $532 per month - far below the federal poverty level. A disabled person on GA gets a whopping $203 to live on. When we are forced onto assistance, life is already a miserable struggle, 24-7. We don’t need any more idiotic, hate-driven laws to make things even worse.”

7 comments

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

right is wrong

If this is not satire it should be. Judge Judy may (or may not be) entertainment. It is not a source of information

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

right

There is so much fraud going on, they just don't 503 dollars or whatever the amount, the have subsidized housing. You ever watch Judge Judy & two people are on there talking about their lives? The one says I work full time go to school full time & I pay my rent on my own, Judy digs for the facts & here goes. That Fulltime job is 20 hours a week, the Fulltime school was one class once a week that was an hour long & the Rent was Twenty Seven dollars a month......it's all in the details

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

First of all not all people

First of all not all people on welfare are on drugs. I don't know of anyone who is on drugs and on welfare. I am on welfare and I do not and never have used drugs. I am however disabled and paid in my taxes so it's not like i'm just living off the taxpayers and anyway, I only get $73 a month instead of the $203 because of income and because they told me that if they gave me the full amount that I would lose my medical care. I only get $162 a month in food assistance. Noone without medical insurance can get the proper care they need. With me being disabled I need my medical assistance. So the next time you make assumptions about how people use the system and we live off the taxpayers and we all use drugs, think twice because most of us are disabled or too poor and can't find work to survive and what jobs people do have they can't get by either. Also I am sick of people putting down the poor (those on welfare) when you lose your job I bet we will see you in the line at social services. You never know what kind of position you might be in and you certainly dont want someone insulting you. The government has done enough without cutting more and more resources, I have done my part for many years and I think I deserve what little I am given.

 
Cody Childers, Tampa FL wrote 3 years 26 weeks ago

cowards in america? is ignorance actually bliss?

'From experience working for', as a self-evident left-brain thinker, who by his human nature tends to think in terms of logic (although I respect if not envy those with more creativity, if the grass is always greener) I would like to ask a question of you, and even though you seem a very logical person this may come of a shock to you....do YOU know how many people came in and spent their welfare cash on drugs or cigarettes? Because it would appear you have already answered this question, 'you lost count'. Interesting as the gentleman pointed out, from your comment one would assume you are not rich yourself, which makes your very coherent argument even more astounding. Do you have any empirical, NUMERICAL, evidence to back up what would appear on the surface to be implying that most welfare recipients are degenerates, if not that extreme at least saying that enough are that we should create a semi-police state of scrutinizing ALL welfare recipients usage of a paltry $503 a month for 3 people? The fact that you fail to label your real name isn't too surprising however, as most people of your kind are cowards. You can find my first and last name above, if you'd ever like to debate me about...anything. I decided to take a slightly more scientific analysis of your comment, as flawed as it may be, to make a point about:

1. There is a huge wealth of knowledge the mainstream media will not advertise.
2. The only way to save the U.S. is by self-education, when our instituations fail us in this area.

The number of people living in poverty in America rose by nearly 4 million to 43.6 million in 2009 — the largest figure in the 51 years for which poverty estimates are available — the Census Bureau said Thursday.
The bureau said in a statement that the official poverty rate was 14.3 percent, or 1 in 7 of Americans, the highest proportion of the population since 1994.

Just to show that poverty is becoming an the norm. Minnesota is below this level.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39211644/ns/us_news-life/

POVERTY AND PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS [In Minnesota]: In 2005-2009, 10 percent of people were in poverty. Twelve percent of related children under 18 were below the poverty level, compared with 8 percent of people 65 years old and over. Six percent of all families and 25 percent of families with a female householder and no husband present had incomes below the poverty level.

HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES: In 2005-2009 there were 2.1 million households in Minnesota. The average household size was 2.5 people.

http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/NPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=04000US27&-qr...

This would lead one that could operate a calculator to infer there were approximately 5.25 million people in this state during these years, ignoring increases or decreases in pop.

The Minnesota Chamber reports:
"In 2005 (the last data available), Minnesota ranked 9th highest in the nation in corporate income tax collections per capita ($182)........."

Definition of PER CAPITA
1: equally to each individual
2: per unit of population : by or for each person

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/per%20capita

Why define a term so commonly known? This is a clever, convienent way to report the TOTAL number of taxes you can collect from companies in ONE state...

So, we can now conclude that from the 2005 data, they collected a TOTAL of ~955.5 million dollars from companies, with 8795 million dollars, or 8.795 billion dollars, left on the table.

Minnesota's Corporate Income Tax System
Minnesota's corporate tax structure consists of a flat rate of 9.8% on all corporate income. Among states levying corporate income taxes, Minnesota's rate ranks 3rd highest nationally. In 2008, state-level corporate tax collections (excluding local taxes) were $200 per capita, which ranked 11th nationally.

I would now like to make a theoretical and ridiculous model, almost to help YOUR case of ignorance, that all of the ~525,000 residents who at at or below the poverty level qualify and receive 503$ per month, as the above article states, if that is true:

You must know that a family of three on MFIP gets only $532 per month - far below the federal poverty level. A disabled person on GA gets a whopping $203 to live on.

I will assume that ALL of these residents receive 503$ per month, realized that a family of 5 can receive more, an individual less. I will now show an estimation of what MY estimation of these suspected, possible degenerate drug addicts per year:

503$*12 months*525,000 residents*0.3*0.5= `$475 million

I assumed, based on a more logical estimation than 'so many I lost count', that even drug addicts need food to survive. So, of the drug addicts, I had them spend half of their welfare money on essentials, which for 3 people would be $3018...total. For the ENTIRE YEAR. For THREE people. I estimated 30% of these people spend half their money for non-essentials. This comes out to 475 million. I would like to share our current personal income tax bracket, for an individual making a hypothetical $1 in this state they would pay 10% in 2011, although our model is 2005. That's ok, because now the individual in this state pays a higher percentage of their wages in taxes on a net $1 year than a corporation does on itself in a net $500 billion year.

I'm ignoring in my model the deductions from this 475 million in savings the state will have by paying to police the matter, also. Lets make it a round 450.

With that said, the total amount of corporate profits in 2005 can be estimated at 9.750 billion, and you can find 450 million by raising corporate taxes 4.388%, bringing them to a total of 14.19%, which is LOWER than what a wage earner of $8,375 will pay in federal income tax.

http://www.moneychimp.com/features/tax_brackets.htm

For the high and mighty looking down on your poor, that is what people call 'dirt-poor'. I realized that these absurdly rich CEOS and such of the corps. pay income tax after that, but with complaints about corporate taxes being so high voiced on one site,

http://www.mnchamber.com/priorities/fiscal_corporatetax.cfm

why havent these companies that raked in 9.75 billion dollars in one year packed up and moved? So, why not attack these poor because of a few bad apples you didn't bother to even count, or count against recipients buying essentials, and ALSO attack the rich because of HUNDREDS of exposed bad apples, through our, at this point, still free media? This would create DOUBLE the deficit reduction in the state of Minnesota, while leaving approximately 8.345 billion dollars for them in a single year, seems more than 'fair' to me. But have we not lost our sight or what 'fair' is as a national unit? Possibly because of policies generating class warfare in a previously stable country we all either loved, or are clinging onto love for? A country strong enough to be saved, even at this point.

Maybe people like you should try something called self-education, or the lost art of THINKING for nothing more than the sake of it, without monetary gain, as I am trying to. We might have a shot. Amazing what you can learn when you choose to.

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

Poor Basher

I would like to commet on this article because there is this myth that all people on welfare or any form of gov. assistance is a drug addictic, or fruading of some type. Do you not realize that our own government can't even follow the rules, they do what they want and don't care if they are breaking the law.

THe other issue you work at Cub you are not banking dued you probly get some type of assistance yourself. You are one pay check away from the role yourself. We don't have a great welfare program a great welfare program would be helping mothers get quality childcare for there children why they go to school, work or look for work. A good welfare program would help people get jobs and keep jobs not just employe them for a few months and then fire them. The system is not set up for the average welfare person to succed is designed to keep them down and oppressed.

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

you exagerrate and generalize

I hate smoking, but I would never suggest controlling every penny a welfare recipient receives in order to prevent them from buying a pack of cigarettes. Get real.

You are just jealous that you work and they get benefits, not that they have a great life on assistance. So you want to control them and humiliate them.

I'm quite sure most welfare recipients don't use their money to buy drugs anyway.

Don't advocate punishing all of them for a few idiots. Makes absolutely no sense.

And for all we know, you are a shill who made this whole story up!

Stop the hate on poor people who have hardly any money as it is. No one should be forced to only have $20 cash on hand at a time, that's absolutely insane, especially for disabled people.

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

From experience working for

From experience working for 7+ years at a grocery store, I'd like all the people complaining to THANK those who made poor decisions that will impact welfare recipients statewide.

Do you know how many people came into Cub Foods on a DAILY basis and used the CASH portion of their benefits to purchase CIGARETTES?! I couldn't even keep track! I made COUNTLESS attempts to reach someone at the county level, and never once was able to speak to an actual employee to ask whether or not this practice was acceptable. In addition, I have seen people get %40 cash back and immediately walk out to our parking lot and purchase DRUGS!

Additionally, I heard people bragging ALL THE TIME about living in Chicago, but setting up a PO Box to get benefits... talk about taking advantage of our system! So, do I feel bad? NO! Do I think there should be limits on FREE money? YES!

I should also mention that I support DRUG TESTING EVERY welfare recipient, and immediately terminating benefits were the recipient to fail. Work closely with welfare recipients, and then speak your mind, but until then, I 100% support this action!

inspector