Welfare Rights protest pushes bills to double the welfare grants and give aid to all in need
St. Paul, MN – Welfare Rights Committee (WRC) members gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol Feb. 26 to demand that legislators pass bills to double the welfare grants and give aid to all in need. After a rally outside single-degree temperatures, the women proceeded to the offices of every single lawmaker in the State Office Building. They held signs and, in a tag team chain, gave out Past Due notices and information sheets to the desks of the politicians.
Tahsha Jackson read the WRC statement outside: “We’re here today, the day before the February forecast comes out, to say the time is past due to double the grants. Tomorrow’s forecast is expected to show a surplus of nearly $1 billion dollars. Yet, in this ‘state of surplus’ our families are living in extreme poverty and in homelessness. We have a message for the politicians: ‘That surplus was built on our backs!’ We have suffered year after year without an increase. Our kids have suffered year after year. Lots of us can’t get any help at all. That surplus represents years and years of pain, and we want our money back!”
Under the WRC bill to double the grants, the cash grant for a family of three would increase from $532 per month to $1064 per month. General Assistance grants (which go to disabled, childless adults) would go from $203 to $406. Those grants have not been increased since 1986 – 29 years ago. The WRC bill’s chief authors are Senator Chris Eaton and Representative Carolyn Laine. The bill was introduced in early February. The WRC bill to give aid to all in need will be introduced this week.
WRC’s Jackson pointed out one example the injustice in the state budget: “What’s been the politicians’ big debate this month at the capitol? Whether the governor’s rich cronies can stand to wait six months for a salary increase. Six months. We have been waiting 29 years! The governor’s people will be earning $150,000 per year – that’s over $12,000 per month! And yet the babies in this state are living in poverty, year, after year, after year.”
Deb Howze of the WRC pointed out, “Politicians have been stealing money from poor families for years, and if we had stolen money like that we'd be in jail!”