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Low-income families protest MN State of the State

By staff |
May 1, 2014
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Members of the Welfare Rights Committee protesting Governor Dayton's State of th
Members of the Welfare Rights Committee protesting Governor Dayton's State of the State address. (Photo by Kim DeFranco)

St Paul, MN - On April 30, members of the Welfare Rights Committee (WRC) gathered outside the House Chambers of the Minnesota state capitol to protest Governor Mark Dayton’s State of the State address. “It’s been 28 years without a grant increase and Governor Dayton refuses to help children and their families,” said the WRC’s Darnella Wade.

For the State of the State address, the whole legislature, Supreme Court, Secretary of State, Attorney General and former U.S. Vice-president Mondale attend. They all had to pass by the Welfare Rights Committee members holding signs of Governor Dayton’s face that read, “Shame on Dayton for ignoring 70,000 kids in extreme poverty.” They chanted, “70,000 kids! 70,000 kids!” and “The rich got bailed out, we got sold out!”

WRC members also displayed 28 tombstones to represent 28 years without a grant increase for MFIP (the state of Minnesota’s welfare program for poor children and their parents). The tombstones had slogans such as, “R.I.P. 28 years without an increase,” and “Rest in poverty.”

According to the Welfare Rights Committee’s statement: “Over the past decade, hundreds of millions of federal dollars targeted for Minnesota’s welfare have been raided by Minnesota politicians to supplant state spending and pay down the state’s deficits. Because of this theft, only 27% of the federal TANF dollars actually go to the Minnesota families receiving welfare. Meanwhile, MN welfare grants have not seen an increase for 28 years, while the cost of living has more than doubled.

“This year the state had a surplus. The governor and legislators had a chance to raise the welfare grants to help get 70,000 kids out of extreme poverty, but they refused. Instead they gave tax breaks, mostly to corporations and the well-to-do.”

The last to make a ceremonial entrance was Governor Dayton. WRC had a member stationed at the elevator, so he had to walk through the capitol and into the house chamber to the chants of “Dayton, Dayton! Shame on you!”

As the governor started his address, he got loud “boos” from WRC members. Their statement notes, “The governor tried to give a rosy picture of the state, but WRC was there to show that the ‘real state of the state’ is horrible for the poor and working families.”