By Gene Martinez, The Arc Minnesota Legislative Advocacy Coordinator
Combating poverty for people who have disabilities is a necessity. Many people who have disabilities struggle to survive on incomes at the federal poverty limit, while others are limited in the assets they can have and remain eligible for SSI, and Medical Assistance (MA) or Medicaid. While raising MA income standards and assets are welcome, there is a need for additional assistance.
There were discussions in the 2016 Presidential nominating contest within the Democratic Party on establishing a guaranteed income for people. A guaranteed income program provides each person selected to participate with a monthly cash grant. It could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the scope of the program and funding available.
The guaranteed income’s purpose is to provide participants with additional financial security. Participants would know they could use those funds for childcare, out-of-pocket medical expenses, housing, food, education expenses, and other necessities. It might allow people to save money so they have an emergency fund in case they lose employment or face some other crisis. People who have disabilities would certainly benefit from this type of program.
The Arc Minnesota was able to meet recently with Andrea Inouye of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s office to discuss the Minneapolis Guaranteed Basic Income Demonstration Pilot. The City Council has approved $3 million dollars for the program. It is part of a city budget to spend federal funding received from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The city of St. Paul and Mayor Melvin Carter recently implemented a similar program called the People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot.
Sign up to be a partner for National Voter Registration Day to get free posters and sticker to distribute on September 28th, two Tuesdays after National Disability Voter Registration Week. You can also check out thecommunications toolkit.
National Week of Action Against School Pushout. Each October, members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC), a national coalition of over 100 organizations, host a series of events, teach-ins,rallies, protests and workshops across the country designed to bring attention to the ongoing and devastating impacts of school policing and zero-tolerance discipline policies. Beginning on Saturday, October 16th and running through October 24th, DSC’s 12th National Week of Action Against School Pushout will bring students, parents, education advocates, lawyers and many others committed to social and educational justice together to amplify the nationwide call for schools to move away from punitive, cold, criminalizing policies and towards emotionally-safe, restorative and culturally responsive school communities.
From The Arc US: Action Needed: We Must Fund Disability Services
We need thousands of stories to tell Congress that people who have disabilities deserve the supports and services to live independently in their communities! Right now, Congress is deciding how much money to include for home and community-based services (HCBS) in the #BetterCareBetterJobs Act.
Labor Day 2021 marked the end of federal unemployment relief for millions of workers and employers enacted at the onset of the pandemic and extended and expanded in December and March. By one estimate,seven million individuals lost all benefits on Labor Day, including gig workers, those who had worked for very small employers exempt from their state unemployment systems, and others who were receiving benefits that had been extended beyond their state’s limit. Another three million individuals reportedly will no longer see the extra $300 per week supplemental benefit provided as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March. Reimbursing employers – nonprofits and local governments that had opted out of their state unemployment systems prior to the pandemic – are now responsible for 100% of the costs of benefits paid to former employees; the federal subsidy of 75% of these costs expired on September 6. In August, the Biden Administration made clear states may use a portionof their ARPA Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to provide unemployment relief to individuals and employers. See the National Council of Nonprofits’ special report on ARPA funds to learn more on how nonprofits can advocate for relief of their unemployment costs.
Federal Debt Limit: Why Is It Important?
The federal government is facing another “debt limit crisis,” but what does that mean? Simply put, raising the debt limit (also called the debt ceiling) permits the federal government to borrow money to pay bills that it has already incurred. First created to help finance spending during World War I, the debt ceiling sets the legal limit on the amount of borrowing by the Treasury. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize the federal government to increase spending beyond the level already approved by Congress. Rather, it allows the federal government to meet its existing obligations such as Social Security benefits, interest on debt obligations, or day-to-day expenses of the federal government.
What would happen if the debt limit is not raised? The Treasury Department can use accounting gimmicks (often called “extraordinary measures”) to continue paying bills for a few months after the debt limit is reached. But, without additional borrowing authority, a nightmare scenario would occur: the federal government would be unable to pay its obligations, i.e, default on payments due. Treasury Secretary Yellen recently warned that running out of cash or the ability to issue debt could “trigger a financial crisis that would threaten the jobs and savings of Americans...at a time when we’re still recovering from the COVID pandemic.”
Every president, regardless of party affiliation, has called for a “clean” increase in the debt limit, but partisan politics usually makes the exercise a painful experience for the economy. Even though Congress has never failed to raise the debt ceiling in time, there can be economic consequences when politicians wait until the last minute. In both 2013 and 2017 when Congress waited until the last minute to act, interest rates on government securities spiked upward, signaling investor concern over the possibility of default. This increased the government's borrowing costs, adding to the overall debt as well as causing ripples throughout the financial markets.