Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Mount Rushmore 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) A 4% tax applies to non-prescription medicine and food. Most states exempt these products, particularly food. Is there any movement to eliminate these taxes on food and nonprescription medicine?
2) The lowest 20% of income earners are paying 11% of their income in taxes. The highest 1% of income earners are paying 1.9% of their income in taxes. What can be or is being done to relieve the tax burden on low-income individuals?
3) There is no state Earned Income Tax Credit program. Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to have one?
4) South Dakota does not have a Shared Work Program. This program helps to reduce unemployment by partnering the state with employers to prevent layoffs. Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
5) At 53%, participation in SNAP is below the national average of 62.27%. What is being done to increase participation in SNAP?
6) The WIC monthly benefit rate is below the national average and among the lowest in the country. Considering WIC serves both needy mothers and their children, is there any effort being made to increase the benefit amount?
7) There is no WIC Farmers’ Market Program nor is there a Senior Farmers’ Market Program. Is there any effort to bring these programs to the state? Who is involved?
8) Participation rates in the School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Summer Nutrition Programs are some of the lowest rates in the nation. What is being done to increase participation? Is there any effort to increase the number of food distribution sites?
9) South Dakota has a low weekly average unemployment insurance rate ($257.17), and although unemployment is low, only 27% of those eligible receive unemployment insurance. Is there any effort underway to raise the weekly benefit rate or to increase participation rate among those eligible?
10) 34.3% of jobs pay below the federal poverty line in the state of South Dakota. This is among the highest in the country. Is there any movement to increase the wages of workers such as raising the minimum wage or bringing living wage jobs to the state?
11) Only 12% of families living below the federal poverty line are receiving TANF. This is below the national average of 21%. Is there any effort being made to increase the rate of participation?
12) South Dakota is spending 7.1% of its state budget on corrections. Are there any efforts underway to reduce costs for these programs, possibly by creating programs to reduce recidivism or provide alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders?
13) There is no state Pre-K Program. What efforts are being made to introduce this program or gain funding for such a program?
14) 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.