A provision in the Senate budget passed last week would rollback a Great Recession-era food stamp expansion that automatically qualified participants in other government assistance programs for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The change is meant to stop the double standard that Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Madison) says exists under the current system.
Under the current system, someone who qualifies for another government assistance program could qualify for SNAP without undergoing the asset review that exists in the SNAP application process.
“You’ve got a family of four making $40,000 who can’t qualify because their children are school-aged, but you’ve got another family that maybe makes more, but who qualifies for child care subsidies and therefore qualifies for food stamps as well,” Hise said in an interview with WRAL. “What we are eliminating is that fact that another program automatically qualifies you for food stamps.”
The provision, passed in 2010 in the heart of the economic downturn, expanded the eligibility, allowed under federal law, to households earning between 133 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level that were also receiving some other public assistance.
That could include federal disability payments, childcare assistance, and more.
In the bill the language says, “Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Department shall not grant a person categorical eligibility under 7 U.S.C. § 2014(a) for the food and nutrition services program based on noncash, in-kind, or other benefit unless expressly required by federal law.”
But that isn’t the only change to the administration of SNAP in the state. Under the bill all applicants would be required to cooperate with the Child Support Enforcement Program, including the parents who have primary custody of their children and the parents without primary custody.
There are waivers for those with good reason to not seek child support from the non-primary parent, in cases in which doing so would go against the best interest of the child or in cases of domestic violence or abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse and for similar reasons.
For the non-primary parent, there are also qualifying reasons not to cooperate spelled out in the policies governing child support.
Bringing the eligibility back to its former level does not directly save the state any money in the budget as the expansion is paid through federal dollars.
The Senate passed its $22.9 billion spending plan last Thursday and Friday and the bill now goes to the House for consideration before legislators will go into conference committee to hammer out their differences, before sending the final budget to the governor for signing.