‘12 Days of Poverty’ protest at MN governor’s mansion: Gov. Dayton told: ‘Raise the welfare grants!’
St. Paul, MN – Organized by the Welfare Rights Committee, low-income people gathered in front of Governor Mark Dayton’s mansion, Dec 18, to demand the state budget surplus be used to meet the needs of the poor and for an increase in the welfare grants. Protesters did a spoken word version of the song Twelve Days of Christmas, called Twelve Days of Poverty. Building on the Christmas theme of the event, they threw brightly colored packages adorned with slogans over the mansion fence.
A statement by protest organizers said, “Two weeks ago, the state announced that there is a projected $825 million surplus. The surplus is there because of years to cuts to programs for poor and working people. For most of us, the economic crisis is still very real, and we need help now. But Governor Dayton announced that he will propose tax cuts, mostly for businesses and the relatively well-to-do. His proposal to increase the Working Family Credit is cynical, since for years this credit has been partially funded by raiding federal welfare TANF block grant dollars. We say, TANF money should go to TANF families, in the form of a cash grant increase.”
The statement continued, “For years, state legislators have stolen money from the federal TANF block grant that was meant for welfare. They have used TANF dollars to supplant General Fund dollars in many areas (including the Working Family Tax Credit). Last year, only 28% of the TANF welfare money went to cash MFIP grants for desperately poor families. The Welfare Rights Committee aims to reverse that trend in 2014.”
The Welfare Rights Committee has legislation drafted for 2014. Their bill does three things. It moves up the implementation date of their 2013 victories for a housing allowance and undoing the family cap. It also calls for putting all of the federal TANF dollars that Minnesota gets towards a grant increase for families who are on welfare.