Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Palmetto State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.
Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond. The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.
These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions.
Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.
Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding. We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.
hat other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?
1) South Carolina is one of the poorest states in the country with a poverty rate that ranks in the ten highest states, and a lower than average per capita income. It has one of the most unequal distributions of income out of all the states. More than a third of all jobs pay below the Federal Poverty level and South Carolina is also one of the few states that do not have a minimum wage. Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to pass legislation for a state minimum wage in order to begin to improve some of these conditions? Who is involved?
2) South Carolina has the 4th highest percentage of its population living in extreme poverty. What programs are in place to specifically meet the needs of this group?
3) There is no state EITC program. Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to have one?
4) South Carolina does not have a Shared Work Program. Why not? Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
5) At 8.6 deaths per 1000 live births, South Carolina has the 4th highest infant mortality rate in the country. Is there anything being done to bring this rate down? Is any effort being made to increase insurance coverage of adults, which currently is below average as 23.1% of adults are living without insurance?
6) South Carolina has one of the lowest average weekly unemployment insurance benefit rates in the country, yet the unemployment rate is the 6th highest in the nation. Is there any movement to increase the benefit rate?
7) Only 2.9% of homes receive LIHEAP assistance. This is the lowest rate in the country. Is anything being done to increase the number of households receiving LIHEAP, especially during the hot summer months?
8) Only 9.5% of families living below the federal poverty line receive TANF. This is well below the national average of 21%. Is there an effort to increase participation in TANF?
9) South Carolina has above average participation rates in the School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, and the Summer Nutrition Program. Are there any special features of this program in your state that might be contributing to its success?
10) Most states exempt food and medicine from taxes. However, there is a 3% tax on food and a 6% tax on non-prescription drugs in this state. Is there any push to exempt these items from tax?
11) The high school completion rate is over 20% below the national average, making it the 2nd worst rate in the nation. What programs are in place to keep students in school and promote higher education?
12) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?
Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected].
Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.