Each year, the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition solicits the input of hundreds of practitioners, advocates and program participants in order to decide on a legislative agenda that is informed both by sound research and by the experiences, challenges and visions of Minnesotans.
MABC 2017 Legislative Agenda
Support Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Financial Capability at Tax Time
For families living paycheck to paycheck, a tax refund may provide the only opportunity for saving throughout the year, and the ability to accumulate and access savings is critical for financial stability. State funding for VITA sites helps thousands of Minnesota taxpayers file for the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax credits that help them pay off debt, catch up on bills, and save for a brighter future. MABC seeks increased state funding for VITA sites to offer free tax preparation and financial capability services – like financial coaching and opening bank accounts – to support good money management at tax time.
Prevent the Fines and Fees Debt Trap
Fines and fees from traffic violations can create a debt trap for people who lack the liquid assets to pay a fine in full and on time. Unpaid fines for moving violations (like speeding), equipment violations (like a broken tail light), or even parking tickets, can lead to additional costs and a cascade of consequences including driver’s license suspension, which makes it difficult for those affected to continue to get to work. MABC seeks reforms that curtail the escalation of consequences for people without liquid assets and make it easier for people to maintain or reinstate their driver’s license so they can get to work, pay their fines, and avoid a criminal record.
Pass the “Getting to Work” Bill to Fund Vehicle Ownership and Repair Programs
Workers without a reliable vehicle are at a serious disadvantage in the job market, especially in Greater Minnesota, where public transportation is scarce, or if they work second shift or need to bring a child to school or childcare on the way to work. Vehicle ownership enables people to access better jobs, work more hours, be reliable employees, and take better care of their family. The “Getting to Work” bill would fund nonprofit organizations that offer low-interest auto loans, affordable car repairs, or donated vehicles to low-income households that need a car to get to work.
Invest in Technical Support for Small Businesses
A successful small business can support a family, create jobs, and contribute to a vibrant local economy. Nonprofit organizations around the state help small business owners achieve success by providing technical assistance with business plans, marketing strategy, financial analysis, licensing issues, and other topics important for launching or expanding a small business. MABC seeks an increase in state funding for technical assistance to small business owners and to ensure that entrepreneurs of color have equitable access to technical assistance.
Make Auto Insurance More Affordable
The law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, but the lowest-income drivers often pay the most for insurance, because factors like their zip code, credit score, and education level drive up their rates. When auto insurance is unaffordable, it creates a hardship for low-income families, who may have to choose between driving uninsured or giving up a job. MABC will launch our campaign for more affordable auto insurance by talking to policymakers, regulators, and representatives from the insurance industry to explore the full range of possible solutions before deciding on the best policy approach to this complex issue.
MABC supports our coalition partners on the following legislative campaigns:
Tax Credits for Working Families
SF726 / HF893
The Minnesota Working Family Credit and the Minnesota Child and Dependent Care Credit encourage work, make the tax system more fair, and help working people meet basic needs and support their families. Because these tax credits increase earned income for working families, they also create opportunities for families to build their savings and work toward long-term financial security. The Minnesota Budget Project and the Kids Can’t Wait Coalition are committed to expanding tax credits for working families in 2017.
Increase the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) Monthly Cash Grant by $100
MFIP provides employment support and temporary cash assistance to families with children, but MFIP cash assistance has not increased since 1986. The cash grant provides a maximum of $532 per month for a family of three, which is not enough to cover fair-market rent in any part of the state. Families need adequate support during times of extreme need so that they can build their way back to financial stability and start building assets. The Prosperity for All Coalition supports an immediate $100 per month increase to the MFIP cash grant.
Create New Career Pathways Partnerships Throughout the State
Career Pathways is an existing project that builds partnerships between employers, social service agencies, and institutions of higher education, to support workforce development and address the opportunities gap in communities of color. The Career Pathways model provides “wrap-around” support, including social services, education and job training, to give participants the best chance for success in a family-supporting job. The MSPWin Coalition supports funding for new Career Pathways partnerships throughout Minnesota.
Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM)
A centerpiece of Minnesota's asset building legacy is the Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM) program, our state Individual Development Account (IDA) program. Dedicated staff across the state work with low and moderate income Minnesotans to deepen their financial capability skills, while working with them to open a special matched savings account. Upon completion of the 2 year program, program graduates can use the account to acquire one of three assets-- a home, a college education or a small business. FAIM has a proven track record of strong returns on investment, and with a modest increase in staffing dollars, more organizations across our state will be able to work with clients to build assets and financial stability.