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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WRC Diagnoses shaft to poor in #MNbudget

Summary of low-income welfare programs.
Good news: General Assistance is preserved. There is no SSI penalty. Residency requirements shot down.
Bad news: Emergency Assistance (of all kinds) takes a big hit. Also, various other small cuts will strike the recently unemployed the hardest.

$58 million stolen from the federal TANF fund over biennium (outright theft + consolidated fund). TANF is supposed to be used for poor families, but the because they didn't tax the rich, they had to steal from the poorest of the poor.

The spreadsheets show a total theft of $58 million from TANF funds over the biennium. TANF is the federal block grant that is supposed to by used by families in extreme poverty. With the economic crisis, that number is growing in the MN.

"TANF is supposed to be used for poor families, but because they didn't tax the rich, they had to steal from the poorest of the poor," said Linden Gawboy, of the Welfare Rights Committee.

$38 million comes from outright stealing. $20 million comes from the county consolidated fund, which counties use for Emergency Assistance and work supports. (see lines 170 and 339 of HHS spreadsheet, which can be found  at

The bill also makes it much harder for people to qualify for various emergency assistance programs - such assistance is what people need from going on welfare or from being homeless.

The Governor allowed some social-policy welfare bashing slip though. "The thing about not buying tobacco, alcohol gambling with EBT 
was already law," said the Welfare Rights Committee's Angel Buechner.

"They just added that stuff - again -  to stir up hatred." Buechner added, "this budget deal just sets us up for more cuts to the poor next year."

The documents are attached and can also be found 

Here are some welfare points from the bill.

FIRST: there is no SSI penalty or Residency requirements. The big cut comes from GA/EGA/EA etc.

Sect. 11: Changes eligiblity for GA.

--modifies the definition of learning disability.

-- Gets rid of: (12) a person who lives more than four hours round-trip traveling time from any potential suitable employment;

Sect 12: Emergency General Assistance

--Lets the counties set the rules for the definition of "emergency"
--Adds language: (b) The applicant must be ineligible for assistance under chapter 256J [mfip], must have annual net income no greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines for the previous calendar year.

Sect 13:
Gets rid of EMSA - says people can apply for EGA

Sect 18:
Reduces the MFIP vehicle asset limit from $15,000 to $10,000.

Bizarre Sect 33 (requires negotiation, but it's not really a mandate):

Liquor stores, tobacco stores, gambling establishments, and tattoo parlors must
negotiate with their third-party processors to block EBT card cash transactions at their places of business and withdrawals of cash at automatic teller machines located in their places of business.

The summary so far doesn't have any info on health care. I don't know how to 

read PCA and occupational therapy stuff.

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