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Welfare Rights Committee tells MN legislators “No cuts, tax the rich”

By Linden Gawboy |
February 23, 2011
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Welfare Rights Committee outside the hearing room of the state House Health and
Welfare Rights Committee outside the hearing room of the state House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, February 23 (Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco)

St. Paul, MN - Members of the Welfare Rights Committee stood in the hall outside the hearing room of the state House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, Feb. 23, holding signs reading, “No cuts to poor and working people,” and “Tax the rich.” As the representatives walked into the hearing room, the protesters insisted they take fliers with the WRC statement on the Governor Mark Dayton’s budget proposal.

The Welfare Rights Committee went to the Minnesota State Capitol to testify before the House committee on the governor’s budget. The state is facing a budget deficit of over $6 billion. While the Gov. Dayton proposes to tax the wealthy, he also puts forward millions of dollars in cuts to programs and services for the poor. For the first time since 1991, Minnesota has a Democrat governor. However, for the first time in over 60 years the House and the Senate are majority Republican.

Angel Buechner testified for the WRC: “We applaud the Governor’s proposal to tax the rich. While we have paid for the budget deficits with our blood for many years, the wealthiest in Minnesota have not paid even one dime. In fact they have gotten richer and richer at the expense of poor and working Minnesotans. While we applaud the Governor’s tax increases, we say it is not nearly enough.”

Buechner pointed out that family welfare grants in the state have not seen an increase since 1986, leaving families 60% below the federal poverty level. She spoke against the governor’s proposal to take $14 million from the federal money that is meant for poor families, “If this state really respected the idea of helping to provide childcare and the Working Family Credit for low-income working families, it would ante up from the General Fund, not take money that is meant for the poorest of the poor.”

The Welfare Rights Committee is ready to do battle against much harsher attacks from the Republican-dominated legislature before the legislative session ends in May.