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Welfare Rights Committee demands MN legislators “Raise the welfare grants now!”

By Tracy Molm |
February 27, 2014
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Welfare Rights Committee demands MN lawmakers “Raise the welfare grants now.”
Welfare Rights Committee demands MN lawmakers “Raise the welfare grants now.” (Photo by Kim DeFranco)

St. Paul, MN – On Feb. 25, Minnesota politicians returned to the State Capitol for the opening of the legislative session and the Welfare Rights Committee and their supporters were there. Over 50 low-income people joined together, despite below-zero temperatures, to send a message to legislators: “Raise the welfare grants. 28 years is too long!”

Lorretta VanPelt opened the rally, reminding people, “In 1986 a family of two received $437 a month. Now, in 2014, a family still only receives $437 a month, despite the cost of living having more than doubled in the last 28 years.”

Over the previous weekend, Welfare Rights Committee members sewed together bed sheets and painted a very large banner that greeted legislators as they entered and exited the chamber. The banner read, “Raise the welfare grants now! Bring 70,000 MN kids out of extreme poverty!”

This session, the Welfare Rights Committee has a bill in the Minnesota legislature to increase the welfare grants - Senate File 1693/House File 2191.

Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME Local 3800, reminded people how working people and unions need to be involved in fighting for raising the welfare grants: “Welfare is the line below which wages are not supposed to be below. Minimum wage continues to be so low partly because they continue to keep welfare grants small.”

In addition to dropping the large banner from the second story rotunda at the capitol, WRC members and supporters walked around the capitol with the banner chanting, “Hey politicians! We’re at your door! Stop the war on the poor!” and “What do we want? Raise the grants! When do we want it? Now!”

The protesters marched with the banner to Governor Mark Dayton’s office, filling both his inner office and waiting room, as WRC members reminded Dayton it’s time he raised the welfare grants for those most in need and help take 70,000 Minnesota children out of extreme poverty.

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