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Poor people take demand to MN governor: “Raise the welfare grants now!”

By Linden Gawboy |
August 10, 2012
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Members of Welfare Rights Committee outside Governor Dayton's office
Members of Welfare Rights Committee outside Governor Dayton's office. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Welfare Rights Committee demands meeting with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton
Welfare Rights Committee demands meeting with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.

St. Paul, MN - People crowded into Governor Mark Dayton’s reception area, August 9, to tell him to “Raise the welfare grants” in the state of Minnesota. Despite harassment by capitol security, the Welfare Rights Committee (WRC) members refused to leave until they felt they were on the path to securing a meeting with the governor himself.

Before the group entered the office, they held a short rally outside. Lena Buggs read the statement from the Welfare Rights Committee, which said, in part, “We are here today, at the office of Governor Dayton, to demand that he take action to raise the welfare grants for low-income families. We insist that he place language in his budget proposal for the 2013 legislative session that would increase public assistance for low income families.”

Angel Buechner led the way into the office bearing an oversize check for $437, the amount of cash that the state allots to a family of two. They left with the governor’s staff. WRC’s Paivey Ballayan presented staff with a large chart showing what a family of two really needs - nearly eight times as much as the grants are now.

Welfare grants in the state of Minnesota have not been increased since 1986 - 26 years ago. If the state’s welfare grants had kept up with inflation, they would be double what they are now, according to the government’s own Consumer Price Index calculator.

The WRC statement concludes:

“We are in the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the need for a public assistance program that keeps families afloat is needed now more than ever. As layoffs continue and unemployment runs out, more and more families are needing welfare.

“We understand that we have a tough fight in front of us. For decades poor-bashing politicians have been balancing the budget on the backs of poor and working people. We have seen one cut after another to the programs and services that we need. Last legislative session we had to face down a politician who was actually comparing low income people to animals. Politicians continue to blame the poor for poverty and we have had enough.

“Over the past 20 years the Welfare Rights Committee has put forward many of the bills and changes in legislation to make things better for low-income Minnesotans. We have organized everything from protests to sit-ins to fight back against attacks on poor and working Minnesotans. We are fed up with the rich in this state getting richer, while poor and working families suffer. We will not remain silent while our families sink deeper into poverty. We demand that Governor Dayton take the lead and take action to raise the welfare grants now!”

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