October 31, 2014

Putting a spotlight on poverty (AUDIO)

A coalition of 25 groups calculates one out of every six Missourians is living in poverty and more than one out of every five Missourians in poverty is a child.  One in seven Missourians gets food stamps.  Missourians to End Poverty says one in six is almost 498,000 Missourians.   Leaders use census data to say only three counties have poverty rates below ten percent–Platte, Clay, and Cass.  The poverty rate is more than twenty percent in about forty counties.

And, the group says, the legislature appears unlikely to do anything about it.

Spokesman Jessica Long with the Missouri Association for Community Action says tax cut bills being pushed this year won’t do any good for those in poverty. “They seem to be more focused on cutting taxes to businesses and to higher income families than to lower income families who already bear a greater burden in our tax code than is just,” she says.

And has she seen any priorities listed by majority Republicans that address poverty? “No, I have not,” she responds.

A minister with the group says people misunderstand Jesus’ words that “You always have the poor with you, ” saying the emphasis should be on “with” not on “always.” 

A spokesman for the 25 groups says they operate with the idea that society has a shared responsibility to respect all people who should have a chance to reach their full potential to participate in thriving, diverse communities.

The federal government calculates that a family of four with an annual income of $23,550 is in poverty.  A single person earning $19,350 or less also is in poverty. 

AUDIO: news conference 21:55