On March 7, 2017 something happened that I never would have imagined for myself or for SingleMomzRock. I stepped foot in the Missouri State Capitol building and was among a group of single mom’s that was honored to testify on behalf of the “CLIFF” bill that is trying to get passed in our House of Representatives.
On the drive from Springfield to Jefferson City, we mostly talked about what we were expecting for the afternoon hearing with none of us ever having been a part of something like this. We were nervous, excited and a bit intimidated. Would the Representatives we were talking to be kind to us? Would they be asking us questions? What were we supposed to say exactly when it was our turn to talk?
We all knew about the term “Cliff Effect.” For those that do not, it means when a small hike in wages leads to a loss of government assistance and you end up making less than if you would have not taken the wage increase. We talked about this a lot and who had experienced this. Each story is different but every one of these women did NOT want to live off of assistance when they had to. They wanted to work, and get paid for the work they were doing. They wanted to take the raises they were given. But they also knew what that would mean for them if they did. Sometimes to the degree of losing everything they had.
I know some of you won’t understand what this means. I wish more people didn’t have to understand what it is. What it means to have to choose between working and paying for childcare. What it means to choose to better yourself even if that means you won’t be making ends meet for quite some time. Right now, the way the system works it does not make it pay to actually work harder. It actually incentives you if you don’t work.
Six of us were able to tell part of our stories and why we are in favor of the “CLIFF” bill. The Representatives listened to us. They asked questions even; good questions. They emphasized with us. They really saw us. And that’s all we really wanted. To be seen. To be heard. To be listened to.
The conversations on the way home that night were a little different than coming. We talked about how we each can make a difference. How empowering it felt to be a bigger part of change and how we were so glad we had each other to experience it all with.
Thank you to Rep. Crystal Quade for making this happen and for working with our moms. For seeing us. For hearing us. For listening to us.