July | August 2017

What are the Most Promising Solutions
for State Governments to Address Poverty?



First Lady of Oregon
Leader of Oregon Prosperity Initiative
“Recognizing as a matter of policy that poverty is both a human tragedy and a serious drain on our economy and workforce is allowing Oregon to address root causes of poverty, not just symptoms like hunger and homelessness. Poverty is complex. It requires comprehensive, integrated strategies and investments in education (especially early learning), health care services, crime prevention and re-entry, and economic development systems. It is crucial to ask hard questions and question assumptions. This isn’t just about working harder; it’s also about creating jobs that pay a living wage. Engaging businesses in poverty reduction efforts can be helpful.”


Executive Director, Connecticut Commission on Children
“Connecticut … created a Poverty and Prevention Council to integrate proven poverty reduction responses with prevention policies. … The Urban Institute then performed an economic model analysis on the policies (recommended by national experts) and proposed the following to reduce child poverty by at least 35 percent in a decade. For families with incomes of less than 50 percent of the state median, provide child care subsidies. Provide enough education and training programs to result in associate degrees for half of the adults with high school diplomas, GEDs for all high school dropouts, wage increases of 20 percent to those already employed and a 6 percent increase in employment for the unemployed. Increase participation to 85 percent in safety net programs. Ensure full payment of child support awards. Provide case management and a wage supplement for recent TANF leavers.”


Alabama Representative
Member of the Alabama Commission to Reduce Poverty
“When you enter any of the organizations like the food stamp office or public housing or TANF, anything like that, you’d have one intake process. … If we had one point of entrance and they were assigned a navigator … who determines where they are in their life. … From there, make a plan with the participant on how to move to self-sufficiency. The trick is, we would like to be able to say to the people, ‘We’re going to get you all the resources.’ … But what we would like is if they would sign an agreement with us, that says yes, I will do X, Y, Z as a requirement to continue to receive my benefits (over a certain time period).”


President, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
“I think the single most important and effective thing that states are doing that is available to every state is to vigorously implement the Affordable Care Act. Bringing health insurance to millions of the lowest income people who were previously not covered by Medicaid is an immense blow against poverty, not just because of health care and the improvement in people’s quality of life, but in their quality of opportunity to move up. It just helps in so many different ways and it is so big and so important on issue of quality of life and quality of opportunity for upward mobility for people in poverty.”


Minnesota Representative
Co-chair of the expired Minnesota Commission to End Poverty by 2020
“We tried to frame (Minnesota’s poverty commission’s final report in 2008) as powerfully as we could, how the great economic meltdown of the recession said a lot about our current efforts to help citizens prosper, perhaps the strong link between the collapse and some of the issues we uncovered, like a huge need for financial literacy. … But the fear just really dimmed our voices and our recommendations. I think there are some really important lessons there and I’m not sure I really figured them all out yet. It has to do partly with the ability to maintain a steady, steady conversation that makes this (poverty) connect with legislators.”