Federal Budget Blueprint Slashes Food Assistance for Hungry Missourians

Note: Thanks to our national partners at Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy for the briefing documents that made the following analysis possible.


On July 19, the House Budget Committee “marked up” its 2018 Budget Resolution for the fiscal year that begins October 1. While this markup is just the first step in the budget process, we are alarmed that structural elements in the Trump Administration proposal match priorities of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Please join Empower Missouri in speaking out clearly and persistently: trillions of dollars in cuts to programs that support low- and moderate-income families cannot be tolerated.

Budget reconciliation instructions to several House committees require $203 billion in mandatory spending through “savings and reforms” (read more accurately as cuts) over the next 10 years. That includes:

  • Reducing funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps) of $10 billion over the next 10 years
  • During that same period, cutting the School Meal Community Eligibility Provision by $1.6 billion
  • Directing trillions in further cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and low income tax credits


For SNAP, the budget committee identified harsher time limits for unemployed and underemployed adults to find work and increased flexibility. As you may recall, Missouri’s majority party passed Senate Bill 24 in 2015 on a largely party-line vote, and tens of thousands of unemployed Missouri adults have since lost the ability to receive food stamps for longer than three months out of every three years – even if they live in high unemployment counties. With our current ranking of second in the nation in hunger and seventh in the nation in food insecurity, we tremble to think of the strain on Missouri’s community food pantries and helping agencies if even harsher restrictions go into effect.


The committee also recommends that states be given the authority to administer SNAP (akin to block grants). This is a step away from the American commitment that we would like to see – that no child goes hungry in this country and that struggling families, including the unemployed and low wage workers, are still able to put healthy food on their tables.  In block grant systems, when funds run out, those in need are turned away or help is rationed as funds grow low. This is especially dangerous in a state like Missouri where our revenue system is so anemic that a supplemental program from the state is likely to be an impossibility at a time when federal caps are reached.

Here are additional proposals regarding SNAP in the budget blueprint that we, FRAC and CBPP consider ill-conceived:

  • Shifting 25 percent of the costs of SNAP benefits (now financed 100 percent by the federal government) to states;
  • Allowing states to cut benefits to meet their share of costs (SNAP already averages less than $1.40 per person per meal in Missouri);
  • Severing the connections between SNAP and heating assistance
  • Eliminating the minimum monthly SNAP benefit (now $16) that many struggling seniors receive;
  • Cutting SNAP benefits for larger size households; and
  • Charging retailers fees to apply and be certified to accept SNAP at their stores (which may undermine the public-private partnership that has made SNAP a cost efficient and mainstream transaction).


We believe these cuts to SNAP and other poverty-reduction programs in the House budget would pull the rug out beneath the most vulnerable in our society, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Meanwhile the wealthiest Americans and profitable corporations get huge tax cuts under the proposal. To see the breakdown for Missouri, go to: https://itep.org/trumpprelimmo/. The richest one percent in Missouri, households with incomes over $480,200 and averaging $1,587,000 annually, would receive more than half of all the tax cut benefits (50.3%).


Please join other civic leaders from Empower Missouri in urging Missouri’s U.S. House and Senate members to reject this cruel and skewed vision for our nation. Hunger is a bi-partisan issue and both sides of the aisle should work together to craft a bipartisan plan that protects SNAP and other poverty-reduction programs.


To see a letter to Congress about hunger and nutrition assistance that we signed with hundreds of other justice-seeking organizations nationally, go to:



STL Annual Dinner SOLD OUT!

2017 Annual Awards Dinner
WHEN: May 25, 2017 at 5:30pm
WHERE: Il Monastero, SLU, 3050 Olive St.
SPEAKER: Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation

If your organization reserved a table but still needs to pay, please contact AJ Bockelman at Local: (573) 634-2901, Toll Free: (888) 634-2901

Empower Missouri- St. Louis Chapter 2017 Annual Dinner Awardees

The Mickey Rosen Community Advocate Award
Susan Talve

Media Award
Joe Kenny

Community Organization Award
Metropolitan Congregations United- Breaking the
School to Prison Pipeline Initiative

Emerging Leader Award
Kayla Reed

Elected Official Award
Alderwoman Cara Spencer

Champion of Justice Lifetime Achievement Award
Fr. Rich Creason

Call Coordinator Christine Woody @ 314-503-7277
RSVP by- May 12, 2017

We will be voting on the new slate of leadership.

Proposed 2017-2018
St. Louis Chapter
Board of Directors

Officers: (Terms expire June 2018) Members-at-Large: Members-at-Large
Chapter officers: (Term expires June 2017) (Term expires June 2018)
President: Sabrina Tyuse Pat Dougherty Rachel Cramsey
Vice President: Alison Dreith Courtney Stevenson Christine Dragonette
Secretary: Gary Busiek Matt Swango Leticia Sites
Treasurer: Rich Hennicke Erica Vogler Susan Sneed
Past President: Michael Klein Theresa Washington Derek Wetherell

Share event with your friends on Facebook and invite them! 

Legislative Heads-Up Week of 2.27.17

Full Floor Debate

House Calendar

SB 45 – Sponsor: Romine (District 3)
Many Missourians might feel forced to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment if this bill passes, without fully understanding the implications. Arbitration does not have to follow legal precedents, and remedies through the courts may be more appropriate in some employment situations than arbitration.

Senate Calendar

SB 43 – Sponsor: Romine (District 3), with Senate Committee Substitute
Weakens the protections of the human rights code and makes it more difficult to prove discrimination.

SB 28 – Sponsor: Sater (District 29), with Senate Committee Substitute
This is the dangerous Medicaid reform bill that could lead to reductions in coverage or funding and that is a premature gamble, given the uncertainty in Washington , DC.

SB 34 – Sponsor: Cunningham (District 33)
Creates a redundant state law regarding illegal re-entry by undocumented persons. Immigration law change is best undertaken as comprehensive and compassionate federal reform with adequate funding and staffing for implementation. A patchwork of state level laws is confusing and saps state resources.



House Hearings:

Find House Committee members at: http://www.house.mo.gov/ActiveCommittees.aspx


Monday, February 27

• 1 p.m., Hearing Room 6, Special Committee on Litigation Reform – House Bill 156, sponsored by Rep. Corlew (District 14). This bill weakens employee protections in that arbitration does not have to follow previous legal precedence. Many employees would not understand that signing an arbitration agreement at hiring would cut off their access to the courts should they experience discrimination or other abuse from that employer.
• 1 p.m., Hearing Room 1, Ways and Means Committee – House Bill 547, sponsored by Rep. Curtman (District 109). This bill would add an inflation adjustment to our long outdated income tax table, preventing it from becoming even more outdated, a small step, but in the right direction.
• Also in that Ways and Means hearing – House Bill 688, sponsored by John McCaherty (District 97). This authorizes a tax credit for organizations that work with ex-offenders. It would be better to fund these very crucial programs through a progressive income tax producing adequate revenue for our state’s essential needs, but that is not currently an option.
• 5 p.m., Hearing Room 5, Special Committee on Urban Issues – House Bill 847, sponsored by Rep. Cora Faith Walker (District 74). This bill would require teacher training to include proficiency on the concepts of the trauma-informed and approach and trauma-informed interventions.

Tuesday, February 28

• 8 a.m., Hearing Room 7, Economic Development – House Bill 637 – sponsored by Rep. Helms (District 135). One of the many attacks on organized labor, this one is against public sector unions. Our allies at the State Workers Union (CWA Local 6355) have asked for our solidarity in opposing this bill.
• Noon, Hearing Room 4, Insurance Policy – House Bill 780 – sponsored by Rep. Hill (District 108). This bill establishes a state innovation waiver task force to develop a health care reform plan. While there are pro-patient reforms that need to be made to Medicaid, state innovations can hold as much threat as opportunity, so vigilance by advocates would be needed.
• 4 p.m. (or upon adjournment), Hearing Room 1, Judiciary – House Bill 274 – sponsored by Rep. Schroer (District 107). This bill requires children under the age of 18 to be prosecuted for most criminal offenses in juvenile courts unless the child is certified as an adult. This is a priority of our Criminal Justice Task Force, so please contact the House Judiciary Committee with messages of support. Those who Tweet may also use this message: “#moleg – we need smarter policies that improve public safety and protect our youth. It’s time to pass #HB274 and #RaisetheAgeMO!” Please Follow @RaiseTheAgeMO on Twitter! You may also Tweet and Facebook Share Rep. Nick Schroer’s interview.

Wednesday, March 1

• Noon, Hearing Room 7, Health and Mental Health Policy – House Bill 437 – sponsored by Rep. Neely (District 8). This bill allows persons with certain serious medical conditions to use medical cannabis.

Senate Hearings:

Find Senate Committee members at: http://www.senate.mo.gov/standing-committees/

Tuesday, February 28

• 10:30 a.m., Senate Committee Room 1, Small Business and Industry – Senate Bill 205 – sponsored by Sen. Sifton (District 1). This bill prohibits paying any employee wages less than those paid to employees of the opposite gender for the same work performed under similar working conditions.
• At that same 10:30 hearing, Senate Bill 289 – sponsored by Sen. Nasheed (District 5). This allows tenants to terminate their lease or change the locks on the premises in certain situations of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. It is a positive bill, especially with an amendment added, according to our allies at Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
• Noon, Senate Committee Room 1, Education – Senate Bill 378 – sponsored by Sen. Wallingford (District 27). This act allows children who attend early childhood education programs that are under contract with school districts or charter schools that have declared themselves as a local education agency to be included in the average daily attendance of the school district or charter school. This is a priority bill for the Missouri Children’s Leadership Council of which Empower Missouri is a member.

Wednesday, March 1

• 8 a.m., Senate Lounge, Seniors, Families and Children – Senate Bill 291 – sponsored by Sen. Rowden (District 19). All state employees shall be given the option to take up to ten consecutive days of paid parental leave following either the birth of a child or the adoption of a child under age two. This is a family-supportive policy and a help to our state workers, still lowest paid in the nation.

St. Lous Chapter March 10th Forum

Make note of the different date!!!! Its MARCH 10th

Policing: Creating a Change

WHEN: Friday, March 10th at 12pm (This is a week early due to St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th in Dogtown)

WHERE: The Highlands Golf Course inside Forest Park, 5163 Clayton Ave.


Representative Brandon Ellington: State Rep from Kansas City

Representative Shamed Dogan (Invited): State Rep from Ballwin

 Metropolitan Congregations United

 Mustafa Abdullah: ACLU

CEU’s Available for Social Workers

Lunch Available for $12

RSVP to Christine Woody Christine@empowermissouri.org


Rod Chapel, President of MO NAACP, Silenced at MOLeg Hearing

Empower Missouri and PROMO Strongly Object To Silencing of NAACP President Nimrod Chapel Jr.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo……Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director of Empower Missouri, and Steph Perkins, Executive Director of PROMO, join in strongly objecting to the treatment of Nimrod Chapel, Jr., president of the NAACP for the state of Missouri, by Rep. Bill Lant, chairman of the House Special Committee on Litigation Reform when Chapel appeared before that committee this evening.

“I was deeply disappointed to see Chairman Lant silence President Chapel shortly after he began testimony on three bills tonight,” Oxford said. “Many believe House Bills 552, 676 and 550, as well as Senate Bill 43, weaken protections against discrimination in the workplace, so the president of the NAACP certainly should not have been cut off as he stated the position of his organization on these bills.”

Witnesses were originally allowed up to five minutes to give their testimony. Both Oxford and Elizabeth Fuchs, Manager of Public Policy for PROMO, were present to testify against the same three bills. Both were allowed to offer their full statements. Chapel’s statement was cut off abruptly, and objections and questions from Minority Caucus committee members were denied.

Fuchs said, “I was shocked to see President Chapel silenced with such disrespect. If such an important voice on issues of discrimination is not allowed to speak or answer questions from committee members seeking to be recognized, how fair is the process?”

Steph Perkins, Executive Director of PROMO, added, “PROMO will be at the Capitol Building on February 14 for our annual Equality Day. We believe strongly that racial justice is an LGBT issue, and we are grateful to be allies with the NAACP. Just as the NAACP stands with us to secure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Missourians, we are committed to standing with them. We understand tomorrow is also Legislative Day for the St. Louis County Branch of the NAACP, and we will look for opportunities to join in solidarity with them. We believe President Chapel should receive an apology and the opportunity to complete his testimony before the committee.”


X          X          X          X

Empower Missouri (www.EmpowerMissouri.org) advocates for the well-being of all Missourians through civic leadership, education, and research. Founded in 1901 as the Missouri Conference on Charities and Corrections and known as the Missouri Association for Social Welfare (MASW) from 1933-2014, Empower Missouri’s work focuses especially on basic human needs and issues of access and equity.


PROMO (www.promoonline.org) is Missouri’s statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization. 


You can tweet Rep. Lant to let him know we won’t sit quietly while Missourian’s voices are silenced, @RepBillLant – please show Rep. Lant a civil tone of  respect in your communications, unlike what he showed Mr. Chapel.

Remembering Where We Came From: A Brief History of American Progress

Guest Blog by Empower Missouri Member Fred Tilinski

Troublesome people keep trying to find meaning in things President Trump says. But when was America great? Was it when business ruled the country and profits came first? If so, that was the age Mark Twain named Gilded. Not only was the US economy growing at a fantastic pace in the last quarter of the 19th century, but there were no impediments, no regulation to trouble venture capitalists.

Between 1880 and 1890, the average annual wage per industrial worker (including men, women and children) rose 48%.

High wages beckoned and job hungry immigrants found an immediate place at the table. New replacements were always needed. Factory work was dangerous. By 1900 25-35,000 deaths and 1 million injuries per year occurred on industrial jobs. Many deaths occurred on railroad jobs. Fires, machinery accidents, train wrecks and other misfortunes were common. No federal regulation of safety and no enforcement of state or local safety regulations existed. Insurance and pensions were rare, there was no such thing as social security or health insurance and courts were not sympathetic to worker claims. To support themselves and their families, thousands of men, women and children worked a standard sixty hour, six day week in unsafe factories to meet the American appetite for cheap, mass-produced goods. The concept of paid vacations and holidays, sick leave, and personal time off was generations away. By 1890 18% of the labor force consisted of children between the ages of ten and fifteen.

Large corporations and “trusts,” representing materialism and greed, were controlling more and more of the country’s finances, By the beginning of the 20th century, gross domestic product and industrial production in the United States led the world.

Robber barons and their descendants controlled billions, in 1900 almost 15% total of national assets were controlled by .03 percent of the 12 million American citizens.

Following the 1930’s Depression, with regulation and high taxes on the super wealthy, the share of national wealth between the haves and the have less class continued shrinking until the late 1970s. Then, another president promised: “to get government off our backs (the backs of the rich?) And we’ll have jobs, –wealth will trickle down”.

Twenty five years later those in the poorest 20 percent income group have actually received a whopping six percent actual income increase from that trickle. But it was the top one percent who would strike a gusher, and realize a 266% increase. America was great again– for them.

Today one single individual controls as much wealth as nine hundred. The share of total household wealth they own has risen from 7% in the late 1970s to 22%. They represent just 160,000 families.
The middle class is shrinking. The share of total US wealth owned by the bottom 90% of families fell from 36% in the mid-1980s, to 23% in 2012. Only for one in a thousand has an average increase flowed steadily upward.

In the Gilded age when America was great the government was pro-business. Congress, the presidents, and the Courts looked favorably on growth, and left leadership to the captains of industry. Lacking leadership on the political level, corruption spread like contagion through the city, state, and national governments. Forgotten presidents and greedy legislators dominated the political scene. True leadership resided among those most wealthy in the Gilded Age.

Greatness for the elite and squalor for the multitudes did not fit the beliefs of most religious denominations. Some faith groups established parochial schools, colleges, hospitals and charities. For religious people many of the problems faced by society during the Gilded Age cried out for reform. A Progressive era was coming.

Secular reformers also believed that the problems of poverty, poor health, violence, greed, racism, and class warfare could best be addressed by providing good education, a safer environment, an efficient workplace and honest government. These progressives believed that government could be a tool for change. They exposed unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry, generating public support for federal inspection of meatpacking plants. The Department of Agriculture disclosed the dangers of chemical additives in canned foods. A muckraking journalist uncovered misleading and fraudulent claims in non-prescription drugs.

Unions crusaded for an 8-hour working day and the abolition of child labor; middle class reformers demanded civil service reform, prohibition, and women’s suffrage. Local governments created schools for children instead of factory jobs, and built public schools chiefly at the elementary level. Public high schools began to emerge.

In 1891 a young member of the New York legislature spoke out against the excesses of “the wealthy criminal class” on his way to becoming a trust busting president.

It is not yet clear how a new administration dedicated to “a government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich” will best serve their 160,000 favorite families, or how soon the consequences soak in on enough of us lesser folk to understand how our meager percentage of national wealth will only slip further away.

That realization and coming reaction is exactly what will make America great again. It will create a new and successful progressive movement that rebuilds the middle class and leaves the rich still comfortable, but well and fairly taxed. And wouldn’t it be nice if the improved schools springing from that movement helped new generations absorb history and master the math that helps us all understand and seek the values of caring and compassion? That truly will keep America great .

Economic Justice Task Force Call-In Meeting – January 26th @4:30

The next meeting of the Economic Justice Task Force will be held on Thursday, January 26 from 4:30-6:00.  The call-in number is 712-432-1500 and the Passcode is 167856#

The meeting’s agenda will focus on our goal of “Moving Missouri toward progressive taxation through advocacy before the State Tax Study Commission” with Commission member Jeanette Mott-Oxford, Executive Director of Empower Missouri presenting information on the interim Commission Report with input from Dylan Grundman,  from The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).

The agenda as well as notes from the previous meeting will be posted on the Task Force site on the Empower Missouri web site.

Task Force members will also discuss the scheduling of the next meeting, and whether future meetings should continued to be scheduled on Thursday afternoons at 4:30.

If you have questions about the meeting, or additional information on the work of the task force, please contact chairperson Chris Guinther at christine.guinther@gmail.com

Launch of MO HIV Justice Coalition

Missouri’s HIV Laws Need to Change

And You Can Help Us Make It Happen


The Missouri HIV Justice Coalition is eager to announce our statewide launch of our efforts to reform, repeal, or modernize Missouri’s outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminal laws.  We launch on the eve of World AIDS Day, which occurs December 1st of each year.


We invite the public to attend our event, Stand Up, Speak Out: A conversation about how HIV criminal laws affect you and what you can do to change them. This event to be held this Wednesday evening, November 30th, from 6-7:30pm in UMKC Student Union Rm. 401BC, located at 5100 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO 64110 (Bus Routes: Main St Max & more, light refreshments provided.


This is forum for People living with HIV and allies to discuss the social justice and public health implications of HIV criminal laws in the state of Missouri.  Panelists for this discussion include Robert Suttle, Assistant Director for SERO Project, Tusday Dudley, MATEC-MO, Training Coordinator at Kansas City CARE Clinic, Randall Jenson, Artist, Anti-Violence Advocate, Youth Organizer & Director of SocialScope Productions, and Kris Wade, Executive Director of The Justice Projectkc, and moderated by Diane Burkholder, Principle Consultant, The DB Approach. Mr. Suttle will also be speaking the following morning at the CCON World AIDS Day Breakfast.


The MO HIV Justice Coalition is made up of national partners, local AIDS service providers, and individuals with support from a number of organizations. It is staffed as a project of Empower Missouri, 501c3. We are pleased to be joined by co-sponsors UMKC LGBTQIA Programs & Services office, Pride Alliance of UMKC, and SocialScope Productions.


Find us on Facebook at Twitter @MOHIVJustice

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/297353810663740/

Event poster and brochure found by clicking links. PDF of Press Release.