Legislative Priorities 2017
We focus on the five elements of poverty to guide our policy work: Education, Housing & Energy, Food, Family & Economic Security and Health. We have grassroots advocacy, state and regional meetings, leadership and advocacy training, in-capitol advocacy and education. Missouri CAN participates in multiple cooperative efforts such as the Cover Missouri Coalition and the Missouri Medicaid Coalition. Missouri CAN leads Missourians to End Poverty (MEP) as the administrative/fiscal arm and spearheads its advocacy and outreach efforts.
Invest in education for all ages.
The Community Action Network recommends maintaining or increasing funding for early childhood education to ensure school readiness for low-income children.
Early childhood education makes good economic sense. In one recent report, Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return, a Federal Reserve Bank calculated a 12% return on investment for quality early children education programs (after inflation).
Higher education also has long term benefits for families. The Missouri Economic Research and Education Center (MERIC) shows the following median weekly earnings from 2015 by the level of education:
- Less than a high school diploma $493
- High school diploma $678
- Some college, no degree $738
- Associate's degree $798
- Bachelor's degree $1,137
Housing & Energy
Fund Utilicare and Weatherization.
The Community Action Network advocates for Utilicare funds, and the transfer of funds to Weatherization to reduce energy burdens for low-income households.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides low income households with financial relief from high energy bills. Funding UTILICARE provides additional assistance with utility bills and funds to weatherize homes - permanently reducing energy consumption. Utilicare is administered through the Department of Social Services and is especially critical for seniors and persons with disabilities.
- Last year, an additional 8,400 households were served using Utilicare funds. These households would otherwise have been without energy assistance.
- According to 5 year Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) data, nearly 80% of recipient households received services for one-time or short-term situations. Only 4.2% of the households served accessed the program every year, and over 73% of those household were classified as vulnerable, meaning the household had individuals who are elderly, disabled or children under the age of 5.
- 10% of Utilicare goes to Weatherization programs. On average, homes that have had Weatherization services save $437 per year on utility costs. An Ameren Missouri study of homes weatherized show an average savings of 12% per home.
Protect access to nutritious food.
The Community Action Network supports the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women's and Children's Program (WIC) to ensure that low-income families have access to nutritious food.
- Missouri ranks 7th highest in the country for states with low food security and very low food security - lacking access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
- In 2014, 872,122 Missourians utilized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as "food stamps." The average monthly benefit per household is only $122.00.
- While SNAP benefits low income families and especially children, it also benefits communities: According to the USDA's Economic Research Service, each $1 billion of retail generated by SNAP creates $340 million in farm production, $110 million in farm value-added and 3,300 farm jobs.
We support the use of SNAP and WIC benefits at farmer's markets to help ensure access to fresh produce and to support local production.
Family & Economic Security
Lift working families out of poverty.
The Community Action Network supports the establishment a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to help lift working families out of poverty.
- Nationally, EITC programs are shown to have economic stimulus benefits for low and middle income families especially.
- Currently 25% of Missouri jobs are considered low-wage, meaning workers are unable to provide for all their basic needs. An EITC would benefit these workers and families.
- One study conducted by the city of San Antonio estimated that every $1 of EITC generated an additional $1.58 in economic activity.
- State EITC programs are cost effective and administratively simple. Twenty four other states have piggy-backed off the national program because the IRS share with state revenue departments the data on federal EITC filers. When the state credit amount is a straight forward percentage of the federal credit, the program is quite simple to enact. Other state credits range from 3.5% to 43% of the federal amount)
Close the Medicaid coverage gap.
The Community Action Network supports Medicaid expansion so low-income Missourians can access preventative health care.
Medicaid saves lives and prevents thousands of deaths each year in Missouri. Expanding Medicaid will help allow 260,000 more hardworking Missourians who earn just a fraction of the federal poverty line to purchase insurance. A recent study shows that expanding coverage could even save the lives of as many as 6% of the people who enroll.
- Under today's rules, a single parent of two can't qualify for basic health care through Medicaid if their earnings exceed $292 per month - just 18% of the federal poverty line.
- Missouri will save more than $81 million initially, increasing to more than $100 million annually in later years through cost savings alone - these estimates do not include additional state revenue that may result from increased economic activity in the state.
- Savings are generated because under expansion, Missouri would only fund 10% of health services costs for many people, while today the state covers much higher percentages - in some cases even 100%.