Until now, the small town of Hibbings (population 16,000), found 200 miles north of Minneapolis in northeast Minnesota, has been known primarily as the birthplace of folk rock icon Bob Dylan. But from this day forward it will also be known as the home of State Senator David Tomassoni, a rare politician who’s not afraid to take a public stand in favor of the Lifeline Assistance free government cell phone program.
Unfortunately, we’ve grown accustomed to hearing politicians attempt to score cheap points by attacking the program.
From our point of view, the program is grossly misunderstood and misrepresented and is an easy target for politicians speaking out against against wasteful government programs.
That’s why we were so happy to see Senator Tomassoni line up squarely in favor of the program and everything it delivers to his financially-struggling constituents. We wish more of our elected representatives understood the specifics of the programs, realized how many millions of low-income Americans depend on it, and would come out in support of it.
Here’s how HibbingsMN.com, the online version of the Hibbings Daily Tribune newspaper, explained Tomassoni’s support:
“It may not seem like much, but the monthly discounts found here could cover the cost of school lunch for an entire week,” stated Tomassoni in a release. “When a family is living paycheck to paycheck, every single dollar counts.”
He noted that the modest discounts provided by these two programs could have a big impact on people’s lives.
“About half of eligible people across the country don’t take advantage of the phone discounts that are available, mostly because they just don’t know about the program,” he added.
There are two ways for needy Minnesotans to qualify for the free government cell phones, minutes and texts Tomassoni is promoting.
First, they may qualify if their annual household income falls at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. In the Gopher State that adds up to $32,738 for a family of four.
Second, they may qualify if they currently receive benefits from a laundry list of other government aid programs — including Medicaid, SNAP, the Minnesota Family Investment Program, LIHEAP and the National School Free Lunch Program.
Bob Dylan is known as “the voice of his generation”, but we’d like to nominate Minnesota State Senator Tomassoni as “the voice of Lifeline”.
No songwriter has ever seemed to understand the plight of the poor any better than Dylan.
As he said in his classic “Like A Rolling Stone”, anyone can fall on hard times and need a little help:
Everybody that was hanging out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal”
That’s what the Lifeline Assistance free government cell phone program is all about — helping folks who are temporarily down on their luck. So thanks for your understanding and your support, Senator Tomassoni.
We think Dylan would be proud of you.