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Senator outlines plan to restore funds to disabled poor
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Sen. Linda Berglin's plan would restore the $125 cuts until at least July 1, 2005, as well as some of the rent aid. (MPR Photo/Laura McCallum)

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) Sen. Linda Berglin said Friday she plans to introduce legislation that would delay some cuts to the disabled poor.

The funding, cut during the last legislative session to help balance the budget, would be replaced with $13.5 million the state recently received from the federal government - a bonus for Minnesota's success in moving people from welfare to work.

Earlier this year, lawmakers voted to cut $125 per month in benefits for each disabled person who receives Supplemental Security Income, as well as $50 for families who get help paying for rent.

Berglin's plan would restore the $125 cuts until at least July 1, 2005, as well as some of the rent aid.

"If we would have had that money last session, I don't believe we would have made this cut," said Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, chairwoman of the committee that deals with health and human services funding.

Angel Buechner, 30, a single mother of four from Minneapolis, is among those who have been struggling more than usual to make ends meet since the cuts went into effect.

She lost a collective $250 for two sons who are disabled and $50 in rent assistance, which if not reversed, would add up to $3,600 over the year.

Berglin's House counterpart, GOP Rep. Fran Bradley, said it was fine to "throw ideas on the table," but too early to lock in on anything specific. He added that the needs Berglin identified wouldn't top his list.

The cuts Berglin wants to restore are also the subject of a class-action lawsuit in Ramsey County. The next hearing on the case is scheduled for Dec. 3.

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