Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Beehive 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. The Utah state minimum wage law does not set a specific wage level. Instead the state law authorizes the adoption of the Federal minimum wage rate through administrative action. 33 States have a minimum wage above the federal minimum wage. In addition 11 States have adopted an inflation adjusted minimum wage. Is there any effort to enact a state minimum wage that reflects the needs of your particular state or to provide adjustments for the inflation rate?
2. 10.3% of children in Utah do not have health insurance. Have there been any efforts to make health insurance for children more accessible?
3. This is one of the few states that does not have a state Pre-K Program. The president is currently spending billions on education. Is Utah applying for any of these federal funds? How would funds be spent? Is any effort being made to create a state Pre-K program?
4. SNAP participation is below the national average. The current participation rate among the working poor is 10% lower than the national average. Is there anyone working on improving participation rate in the SNAP program for working poor?
5. Utah also has the lowest WIC benefits of any state in the country ($32.68). Is there a push to increase the average benefits of this program?
6. Utah does not have a Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program or a WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Is there any movement to establish either one?
7. Participation in the both the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs is the 2nd lowest out of all the states. Is any effort being made to increase participation in both programs?
8. Only 1% of the state population receives Federal SSI. Only 8% of eligible people receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This is extremely low. Is there an initiative to extend the outreach of these programs?
9. There is no state Earned Income Tax Credit program. Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to bring this program to Utah?
10. Utah has a 1.75% tax rate for food and non-prescription drugs are subject to the 4.65% general sales tax. Most states exempt these items from tax, especially food. Is there any movement to repeal this tax?
11. The lowest 20% of income earners pay 9.3% of their income in taxes. The highest 1% only pay 4.9% of their income in taxes. What is being done to alleviate the tax burden on low-income individuals?
12. Utah does not have a Shared Work Program. Why not? Is there any effort to bring one to the state
13. Utah is a Right to work state – is there a movement to make it easier for people to join unions?
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.