$1.6 billion in HHS cuts pass the legislature: We Can Do Something About It
A disabled mother with two children relying on MFIP has an income of about $13,000 a year – about what just one CEO, who made $25.2 million last year, earns in little over an hour. What do they have to do with each other? They are the people at two ends of the state’s budget debate. (See a flier that legislators got last night at the Capitol.)
The legislature opted not to use any new revenues – including returning to the tax rate on wealthiest Minnesotans that was in place three governors ago. Instead the legislature is in the process of closing the state’s $5 billion budget gap with cuts alone. The Health and Human Services budget passed about 2:30 a.m. this morning. It includes:
The Governor has made it clear he will not sign this – or the other budget bills. The big questions at the Capitol are: when will there be a special session? Will there be a government shut down? If there is, for how long? I am afraid Affirmative Options is part of a very large group of people and organizations who don’t know the answers to those questions yet.
What we can do: Come to the Capitol Saturday at 10:30 a.m. for A People’s Rally for a Fair Minnesota. The rally will focus on calling for those with wealth to be part of the solution. Click here for more details.
Sign a new letter -- TODAY. In addition to the budget cuts outlined above, the legislature’s judiciary bill would cut funding and limit the legal activities Legal Aid could take on. Remember it was Legal Aid lawyers and low income Minnesotans who successfully challenged Governor Pawlenty’s ability to unilaterally make budget decisions without negotiating with the legislature. Our friends at the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless have created a sign on letter asking the Governor to reject the attack on Legal Aid. Let us know TODAY if your organization will add its name to that letter.
(THANK YOU – More than 100 organizations signed on to the letter to Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson asking her to resist cuts to General Assistance and to families on MFIP with disabilities. That letter was passed out to all legislators during their debate on the human services bill last night.)
General Assistance The state would eliminate General Assistance (as well as Emergency General Assistance, Emergency Minnesota Supplemental Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Program.) The emergency assistance programs provide money to pay rent or utility bills when a disabled, childless adults faces homelessness. The nutrition program provides additional funds for people whose illness or disability require a specialized diet. It was four people who relied on that program who went to court and successfully challenged Governor Pawlenty’s attempt to eliminate that program through unilateral action without the legislature. In place of the four programs, the state would create a block grant for counties -- $20 million poorer than current state spending on those programs – and leave it up to counties to run their own safety net programs for very poor disabled adults. The irony is that Minnesota created General Assistance in 1973 to replace an ineffective patchwork of local programs.
MFIP The state’s welfare to work program would see three cuts under the Legislature’s Human Services bill:
Minnesota has not increased the assistance to childless adults on General Assistance or to very poor families since 1986.