Last week two bills were brought to the Senate floor for debate, SB 567 and SB 561, both of which would do harm to Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens; seniors, people with disabilities and children.
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The Circuit Breaker Bill (SB 567)
SB567 raises taxes on low-income seniors and people with disabilities by reducing the Circuit Breaker tax credit, which is intended to help them stay in their homes longer by offsetting the cost of rising property taxes. By reducing these tax credits it would effectively increase taxes on a group of people who more than likely can no longer work to replace that money and are on a fixed income which leads to the possibility that they may not being able to stay in their homes.
This tax increase trades cuts to one vulnerable group for another in order to make up for tax cuts to wealthy corporations, which have caused budget shortfalls in Missouri. If passed SB 567 would increase taxes on Missouri’s most vulnerable who are living on fixed incomes, in order to fund tax cuts for wealthy corporations. This bill would take approximately $42 million in savings by increasing their taxes and putting the savings toward undoing cuts to other services for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. We shouldn’t have to decide which vulnerable groups suffer while wealthy corporations continue to benefit.
SNAP benefits (SB 561)
SB 561 changes the requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by punishing people who fail to meet federal work requirements for SNAP by cutting off benefits and, if they are the head of household, cutting of the entire household as well. In other words through no fault of their own, children will be at risk of having less food or going without food due to the actions of their parents. For families living in extreme poverty meeting these requirements can be incredibly difficult if not impossible so to withhold food benefits as punishment is utterly unconscionable.
Children could go without nutritional benefits for up to 180 days by no fault of their own. SB 561 would punish children for their parents actions. This is unacceptable as the SNAP program serves 378,373 households and 810,000 Missourians per month. If a disqualified individual is the head of a household, the household would then be ineligible to participate in SNAP under SB 567 for a period not to exceed the lesser of either the duration of the ineligibility period of the disqualified individual or 180 days.
Hunger causes stress and stress is harmful for a child’s mental and physical development. If a child lives with the stress of food insecurity it can lead to lasting damage to health, learning and behavior. “The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the healthy development of the next generation.”