‘A Minnesota Without Poverty’: Proposals from anti-poverty conference

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Sometimes less is more, the Cliff’s Notes version way more readable and meaningful than the unabridged.

So, with a tip of the hat to anti-poverty conference convener Nancy Maeker who sparked the idea, “listen in” to provocative and memorable comments overheard at the Connecting to End Poverty conference Wednesday, a rally called by “A Minnesota Without Poverty” and involving some 40 non-profit advocacy groups.

Their goal? According to Maeker: “to reinvigorate and move forward” the recommendations of the Legislative Commission to End Poverty by 2020 (LCEP), issued in 2009, and to urge advocates to decide which issues they can put their collective weight behind and bring to the 2013 Legislature.

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Spoiler alert: “A Minnesota Without Poverty” will release an official ruling in days to come, but preliminary voting results show a majority of the group ready to stand behind a Family Economic Security bill that would, among other changes, increase minimum wage to $9.50 an hour.

They also support in large numbers a measure that would require a poverty-impact analysis with proposed laws that would affect low-income Minnesotans.

Among issues discussed: financial literacy education, uniform eligibility requirements for government aid programs, guaranteed health care, preschool education and childcare, more affordable housing, expanded food support, increase in minimum wage, increased welfare grants to families, more help for those exiting the criminal justice system.

Overheard:

  • “No one deserves to be poor,’’ a comment by a Minnesota military veteran, shared by Rep. Carolos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, former co-chair of the LCEP, in telling of the commissioners’ travels around the state some years ago to listen to low-income Minnesotans and those who help them.
  • This is half way to 2020 and “we’ve got some catching up to do… Go for it. Push hard. Push all of us.’’ – Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, another commission co-chair
  • Don’t relegate the bipartisan commission’s “excellent” report to the dust bin. — Rep. Morrie Lanning, retiring Republican legislator from Moorhead, who served on the LCEP executive committee and was responsible for pushing for renewal of the Legislative Ladder Out of Poverty Task Force, which he co-chaired for the past two years
  • Poverty is costly in terms of the loss of human potential. The poor tell us: “We’re not so interested in hands out. We want a hand-up.’’ — Lanning
  • There’s “human dignity” in work. The economy exists to serve human needs. — Brian Rusche, Joint Religious Legislative Coalition
  • “Ending poverty is good for business.’’ — Dane Smith, Growth and Justice, on advocating for a poverty-impact statement with bills involving low-income Minnesotans
  • “What is it about not enough money that people don’t understand?” — Kris Jacobs, JOBS NOW Coalition
  • More than 80 percent of the spending in the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (also known as the FAARM Act) goes to people with the lowest incomes through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and commodities that are the backbone of every food shelf in the state. — Colleen Moriarty, Hunger Solutions Minnesota
  • “Stick together. Collaborate with each other.” — Lanning