Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) today introduced legislation (Senate File 1328) to treat all workers with dignity, so no full-time worker lives in poverty. “Overwhelmingly, Minnesotans agree with the principle that any person working full time should not be forced to live in poverty. They might not become wealthy, but in exchange for their hard work, every worker deserves to be able to afford adequate food, shelter, and other necessities. These are Minnesota values and it’s about fairness,” Sen. Marty said.
“Paying workers a living wage is the most important action that can be done to reduce poverty and welfare costs,” said Sen. Marty. “Unfortunately, legislative action at the Capitol this year will increase the number of people living in poverty,” Sen. Marty said. “In light of this, it’s time for Minnesotans to stand up and ensure that every worker is treated with dignity and no longer lives in poverty.”
“Since the Legislative Commission on Ending Poverty by 2020 issued its final report in 2009, Minnesota has moved further from the goal of ending poverty,” said Sen. Marty, co-chair of the commission. “In part because of the economy, and in part due to state cutbacks, the number of Minnesota families struggling to meet basic needs is growing sharply. More than three in ten Minnesotans are struggling to meet basic needs. Some workers cannot afford housing and go from their jobs to homeless shelters at night.”
Marty’s legislation would help workers move from welfare to economic independence by:
– providing access to affordable childcare, eliminating the two year waiting list that exists in many counties;
– raise the minimum wage to $9.75 per hour and to $10.50 next year (this is where it would be if it had increased with inflation since the late 1960s);
– double the Working Family Tax Credit received by low income workers in Minnesota to ensure that all people are better off working than being on welfare;
– reestablish the MEED (Minnesota Emergency Employment Development) jobs program, a simple but effective initiative that assists small businesses in hiring the unemployed. MEED was created in Minnesota during the recession in 1983. It has won praise from national economists and been described as the most effective job creation program in the entire country in the past 50 years.
Although S.F. 1328 does not include provisions related to affordable health care, Sen. Marty pointed out that S.F. 8, the Minnesota Health Plan, would reduce health care costs and cover all Minnesotans in a manner that would be affordable to low income workers. In combination with the Minnesota Health Plan, S.F. 1328 would lift all workers and their families out of poverty.
Sen. Marty stated, “This is a moral issue as well an economic one. The Worker Dignity bill will help Minnesota workers succeed, improve the lives of workers and their families, boost their productivity, stimulate the economy, and reduce welfare costs.”
Sen. Marty’s proposed legislation can be found at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S1328.0.html&session=ls87