Friday, December 10, 2010


Mexico Lindo, Mexican Folkloric Dance Group

Governor-Elect Mark Dayton
Can you imagine Minnesota without poverty by the year 2020?  That is just what a statewide movement, A Minnesota without Poverty, is working to create. The kickoff for an "Enough for All" campaign was held December 9th at the the University of Minnesota's McNamera Center. Five additional Minnesota locations also participated, being linked by satellite, including Duluth, Hibbing, Willmar, Rochester and Fergus Falls.

For Minnesota to reduce its poverty rates some significant trends are needing reversing.  With the current tax and economic situation 40% of the jobs created in Minnesota can not support a family.   Also consider in Minnesota:
  • One in four women over the age 16 is experiencing poverty
  • The poverty rate grew by 4% between 1999 and 2009, the fourth highest rate in nation
Tragically, over 20% of the children in our wealthy nation are living in poverty.  A single female-headed household with children living under the age of five is 12 times more likely to be experiencing poverty.

Art work by Grace Lutheran Church confirmation class
So, what to do?  The following Legislative recommendations were made:
  • Restore work as a way out of poverty
  • Refocus public assistance to streamline services and support everyone's capacity and potential
  • Help Minnesotans build and maintain financial assets
  • Revitalize our communities though infrastructure and person-to-person support
  • Modernize our system of education  to build the best workforce in the nation
  • Develop an ongoing structure to monitor Minnesota's effort to end poverty
The executive director of A Minnesota Without Poverty, Nancy Maeker, recommended the Minnesota legislative bodies use "bifocals" in their approach to budgeting; looking both at the short-term immediate needs, but also the long-term solutions.  She encouraged a measurement of success by a reduction in the number of people in poverty by 2012 and the number of new jobs that can support families.  She encouraged all to write their legislators on this issue.

Gary Cunningham, NW Area Foundation
Governor elect Mark Dayton presented and also stuck around to listen.  He's facing a daunting 6.2 billion dollar deficit, which is 19% of what the state is expected to spend.  So while he's recommending initiatives to provide early childhood education, optional full day kindergarten, and jobs with living wages.  It is a very difficult time to add expenses to the budget. Related to taxes, he noted that during governor Rudy Perpich's administration the top tax rate was 17.6%, more than two times what it is today. 

Gary Cunningham, Vice President of Programs with the Northwest Area Foundation, provided a glimmer of hope, noting that "in the darkest days we can see the light."  He also presented a matching challenge of $50,000 from the Northwest Area Foundation to help support A Minnesota without Poverty. 

Nancy Maeker
John Hottinger noted that during the last economic recovery the poverty rate actually went up.  The gap between the haves and those without is growing.  A Minnesota Without Poverty is working to reverse this trend.  Following is contact information:

Nancy Maeker, Executive Director
PH: 612-310-9560

Facebook:  "A Minnesota Without Poverty"

Half in Ten is also working to reduce the United State's level of poverty in half, within the next ten years.

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