Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Gridlock in Congress keeps food stamp funding higher in Oregon, By Jim Myers, September 1, 2013, The Oregonian: “Food stamp programs in Oregon and across the nation continue to be saved from billions of dollars in budget cuts and other major changes by an unlikely savior: Congressional gridlock. In a clear case of unintended consequences, the much-criticized trend in Congress to accomplish nothing of lasting significance entered its second year of no food stamp overhaul. Until Congress acts, states will receive the same level of benefits. That’s a big deal in Oregon, where one in five Oregonians benefit from the state’s program, which receives about $1.2 billion annually…”
  • As debate reopens, food stamp recipients continue to squeeze, By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, September 4, 2013, New York Times: “As a self-described ‘true Southern man’ — and reluctant recipient of food stamps — Dustin Rigsby, a struggling mechanic, hunts deer, dove and squirrel to help feed his family. He shops for grocery bargains, cooks budget-stretching stews and limits himself to one meal a day. Tarnisha Adams, who left her job skinning hogs at a slaughterhouse when she became ill with cancer, gets $352 a month in food stamps for herself and three college-age boys. She buys discount meat and canned vegetables, cheaper than fresh. Like Mr. Rigsby, she eats once a day — ‘if I eat,’ she said. When Congress officially returns to Washington next week, the diets of families like the Rigsbys and Adamses will be caught up in a debate over deficit reduction…”

States and Sequestration Cuts

States brace for new round of sequester cuts, By Elaine S. Povich, August 21, 2013, Stateline: “States have been forced to gear up for a potential second round of across-the-board federal spending cuts after Congress left for its summer recess without a budget deal. Another round of sequestration would reduce federal spending on everything from Meals on Wheels to Head Start, according to Federal Funds Information for States. FFIS is a Washington group that helps states manage their federal money…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • California discourages needy from signing up for food stamps, By Evan Halper, August 17, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “It was not surprising that Texas held out. For years, Texas was among a handful of states that required every resident seeking help with grocery bills to first be fingerprinted, an exercise typically associated with criminals. Even though Republican Gov. Rick Perry ultimately got rid of the policy, Texas — always seeking to whittle down ‘big government’ — remains one of the most effective states at keeping its poor out of the giant federal food stamp program. But it is not No. 1. That distinction belongs to California…”
  • Food stamp cut backed by Republicans with voters on rolls, By John McCormick and Greg Giroux, August 13, 2013, Bloomberg: “As the U.S. economy recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression, the explosive growth of food stamps remains a lingering legacy. And now the program comes with an irony, as the Republicans seeking to cut it also represent vast numbers of recipients…”

Sequestration Cuts and Safety Net Programs

  • Head Start eliminated services to 57,000 children in U.S. as a result of sequester, By Michael Alison Chandler, August 18, 2013, Washington Post: “Head Start programs across the country eliminated services for 57,000 children in the coming school year to balance budgets diminished by the federal sequester, cutting 1.3 million days from Head Start center calendars and laying off or reducing pay for more than 18,000 employees, according to federal government data scheduled for release Monday…”
  • Head Start hit with worst cuts in its history, By Adrienne Lu, August 19, 2013, USA Today: “Last year about 1 million of the nation’s poorest children got a leg up on school through Head Start, the federal program that helps prepare children up to age five for school. This fall, about 57,000 children will be denied a place in Head Start and Early Head Start as fallout from sequestration. New estimates about the automatic budget cuts were released Monday by the federal government. The cuts have slashed over $400 million from the federal program’s $8 billion budget…”
  • Pa. taxpayers end up paying more as public defenders laid off, By Brian Bowling, August 18, 2013, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “In Western Pennsylvania, budget sequestration measures are pushing the federal court system to rely on $125-an-hour private attorneys instead of public defenders who typically cost taxpayers $75 or less for hourly work on criminal cases. That 67 percent increase in providing legal services to indigent criminal defendants is just one way that budget ‘cuts’ will end up costing taxpayers more, while undermining the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of fair and speedy trials, legal experts contend…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Time to take a bite out of food stamps?, By Connie Cass and Mary Clare Jalonick (AP), August 2, 2013, Denver Post: “Food stamps look ripe for the picking, politically speaking. Through five years and counting of economic distress, the food aid program has swollen up like a summer tomato. It grew to $78 billion last year, more than double its size when the recession began in late 2007. That makes it a juicy target for conservative Republicans seeking to trim spending and pare government. But to many Democrats, food stamps are a major element of the country’s commitment to help citizens struggling to meet basic needs. These competing visions are now clashing in Congress…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

House plan on food stamps would cut 5 million from program, By Ron Nixon, July 30, 2013, New York Times: “Nearly half a million people who receive food stamps but still do not get enough to eat would lose their eligibility for the program under proposed cuts that are expected to be taken up again by Congress. An additional 160,000 to 305,000 recipients who do get enough to eat would also lose their eligibility and the ability to adequately feed themselves. In total, about 5.1 million people would be eliminated from the program, according to a new report…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

As Congress debates food stamp cuts, working poor worry, By Martha C. White, July 13, 2013, CNBC: “For one in seven Americans, the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps, is all that stands between them and too little food. But the complicated calculus of financial survival for the working poor also means any cuts to the roughly $80 billion SNAP, as it’s known, being considered by Congress would be felt well beyond the grocery checkout line. Buying new school clothes, family outings, even getting a toehold in the financial mainstream could be thrown into limbo…”

State Cuts to Unemployment Benefits

States make ‘historic and disturbing cuts’ to unemployment benefits, By Jake Grovum, July 11, 2013, Stateline: “North Carolina drew national attention last week when it dramatically scaled back its unemployment insurance program, ending benefits for tens of thousands and slashing the amount of time that jobless people can collect aid. But the North Carolina reductions, which drew fierce protests in Raleigh, were just the latest in a string of unprecedented and historic state cuts in unemployment aid. Even as the nation’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, other states have cut unemployment benefits to levels not seen since the 1935 Social Security Act created the program…”

Sequestration and Long-Term Unemployed

Sequester Hits the Long-Term Unemployed, By Catherine Rampell, July 2, 2013, New York Times: “Sunday was the five-year anniversary of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, a federal program signed into law by President George W. Bush that initially added 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to the standard 26 weeks states already offered eligible jobless workers. The 13 additional weeks of benefits were intended to be temporary, but as the recession worsened, Congress decided to keep the program going and even lengthened the amount of time that workers could receive benefits. For a while workers could receive as many as 99 weeks in some states, the longest duration of jobless benefits on record.Those benefits have been pared back over the last year and a half, though, and are being cut more severely now as a result of the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. A new report from the National Employment Law Project calculates exactly how much. . .”

 

The Farm Bill and SNAP

House defeats a farm bill with big food stamp cuts, By Ron Nixon, June 20, 2013, New York Times: “Opposition by Democrats to huge cuts in the food stamp program helped lead to the defeat of the House farm bill on Thursday, raising questions about financing for the nation’s farm and nutrition programs this year. The vote, which was 234 to 195 to defeat it, came a year after House leaders refused to bring the five-year, $940 billion measure to the floor because conservative lawmakers who wanted deeper cuts in the food stamp program would not support it…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Cuts are coming for food stamps if farm bill is passed, though unclear how deep, By Mary Clare Jalonick (AP), May 8, 2013, Washington Post: “The government’s food stamp program, which helps feed 1 in every 7 America, was one of the few programs exempted from this year’s automatic spending cuts. But now it is likely to get trimmed. Unresolved is by how much. The Democratic chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee is only willing to take roughly one-half of 1 percent, or about $400 million annually, off the top as the panel prepares to move a massive farm bill through committee next week. Her Republican counterpart in the House, also preparing to consider a farm bill next week, would give the program a makeover and cut it by five times that amount…”

Early Childhood Education – Missouri

Missouri early childhood advocates hope to avoid repeat of cuts last year, By Nancy Cambria, April 20, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “William Blaylock knows from experience how state budget negotiations currently going on in Jefferson City can affect his work directing a day care. Last year — in what was widely viewed as a bad year for early childhood education — the Missouri Legislature trimmed $14 million in funding for child care and preschool programs, mostly in last-minute deals to balance the budget. Blaylock said the cuts placed his preschool, CoCo’s Kidz of St. Louis, in a lurch. The licensed center lost all of its 17 subsidized slots for infants and toddlers in low-income families…”

Section 8 Housing Subsidies

Federal rent subsidies vanish for many low-income Minnesotans, By Randy Furst, April 12, 2013, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Corinne Lewis, who is disabled and lives in a rental unit in need of repairs, was on a waiting list for six years to get a rental subsidy under a federal housing program. In February, the Woodbury woman was elated to learn that she, her disabled daughter and a granddaughter finally would receive the subsidy under the Section 8 program. She began hunting for an apartment. Then, last month, Lewis got a second letter from the Metropolitan Council’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The agency told her the subsidy was on hold because of a reduction in federal funding due to sequestration — the automatic budget cuts that went into effect starting last month…”

Unemployment Benefits

  • Sequester pinches long-term unemployed even more, By Jim Zarroli, April 5, 2012, National Public Radio: “Almost 5 million Americans are considered long-term unemployed, meaning they have been searching for work for at least six months. This week, their plight is getting a bit tougher as the government cuts their unemployment benefits — part of the automatic reductions in federal spending that took effect recently…”
  • Tennessee’s unemployed wait hours to make claim, months to get a check, By Nate Rau and Tony Gonzalez, April 7, 2013, The Tennessean: “Pam Milam calls the many months she spent fighting for her unemployment benefits the most difficult time of her life. In the summer of 2011, Milam, who cut back her work hours so she could take care of her terminally ill husband, says she was given a choice by her employer: either return to work full time or be forced to resign. After she chose the latter, Milam, 52, of Hermitage, applied for unemployment benefits with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. She waited two months to be told her application was rejected on the grounds that she chose to quit, even though such forced resignations can be covered under the benefits program…”
  • GOP lawmakers seek to alter jobless benefits in good times, By Patrick Marley and Jason Stein, April 5, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Republican lawmakers want to cut in half how long those out of work can claim jobless benefits when the economy is good, while also modestly raising weekly payments and making dozens of other changes to the state’s unemployment system. At the start of next year under the GOP plan, laid-off workers could receive 26 weeks of benefits from the state when the unemployment rate is 8% or higher, but the number of weeks would decline to as few as 12 as the unemployment rate drops…”

Poverty Programs and Spending Cuts

US poverty spikes but help from Washington shrinks as government struggles with debt, Associated Press, April 1, 2013, Washington Post: “Antonio Hammond is the $18,000 man. He’s a success story for Catholic Charities of Baltimore, one of a multitude of organizations trying to haul people out of poverty in this Maryland port city where one of four residents is considered poor by U.S. government standards. Hammond says he ended up in Baltimore three years ago, addicted to crack cocaine and snorting heroin, living in abandoned buildings where ‘the rats were fierce,’ and financing his addiction by breaking into cars and stealing copper pipes out of crumbing structures. Eighteen months after finding his way to Catholic Charities via a rehabilitation center, the 49-year-old Philadelphia native is back in the work force, clean of drugs, earning $13 an hour cleaning laboratories for the Biotech Institute of Maryland and paying taxes. Catholic Charities, which runs a number of federally funded programs, spent $18,000 from privately donated funds to turn around Hammond’s life through the organization’s Christopher’s Place program which provides housing and support services to recovering addicts and former prisoners…”

Sequestration Cuts and Safety Net Programs

  • Sequester likely to hurt most vulnerable, despite protections, By Annie Gowen and Zachary A. Goldfarb, March 3, 2013, Washington Post: “With automatic budget cuts looming, George Garrow decided he could no longer put off the inevitable. Garrow — whose small nonprofit group serves at-risk youth and about 100 veterans — gathered his top aides late last week in the conference room of his L Street office and began to pore over budget spreadsheets. The mood was grim, and it soon grew worse. As they went over the numbers, they realized that if sequester cuts stay in effect, they will eventually have to get rid of half their staff of 40. Around the country, nonprofits organizations and others who work with the disadvantaged have been scrambling in recent days to prepare worst-case budget scenarios for the expected 5 to 8 percent cuts in domestic spending called for by the sequester. Because certain entitlement programs, such as food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, were exempted from the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, the most vulnerable were not supposed to be severely hurt…”
  • Sequester will take a bite out of Head Start, By Nancy Cambria, March 4, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Just weeks ago, President Barack Obama and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called for better access to early childhood education — to the delight of advocates wanting broader access to preschool and quality child care. But on Friday, $85 billion in automatic cuts to federal services promised to take a $406 million chunk out of the federal Head Start preschool program. Now, those same advocates are wondering how to deal with a cut that could put 205 St. Louis area children at risk of losing free services…”

Child Care Subsidies – Kentucky

Advocates: Child-care subsidy cuts will force parents from jobs and close care centers, By Beth Musgrave, February 6, 2013, Lexington Herald-Leader: “Big cuts to a program that helps low-income families pay for child care will probably force many single parents to quit their jobs and shutter some child-care centers, warn advocates who will rally Thursday in the Capitol. In Martin County, between 60 percent and 75 percent of children at the county’s only licensed child-care center, Martin County Kiddie College, receive a state child-care subsidy, owner Brenda Bowen said…”

States and Medicaid

  • Spending on Medicaid has slowed, survey finds, By Abby Goodnough, October 25, 2012, New York Times: “The annual growth in spending on Medicaid slowed sharply last year as the economy began to improve, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found. Enrollment in the program grew only modestly as well, but that may change as millions of people are due to become eligible in 2014 under the new national health care law. Medicaid provides health and long-term care coverage to more than 60 million poor people, at a combined cost to the states and federal government of more than $400 billion a year. During the recession, as Americans lost jobs and health insurance, enrollment in the program rose sharply, and states struggled under the weight of its costs…”
  • Medicaid expansion option would impact tens of thousands in Clark County, but details raise questions, By Kari Bray, October 22, 2012, The Oregonian: “About 20,000 uninsured individuals in Clark County could qualify for Medicaid if Washington state chooses to accept federal funds to expand the program in 2014. However, some legislators have voiced concerns that the state lacks the detail needed to implement the optional Medicaid expansion. The expansion was originally mandatory under the Affordable Care Act, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in July resulted in the expansion becoming voluntary…”
  • Ohio’s high Medicaid cost estimates questioned by some experts, By Kate Irby, October 24, 2012, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Gov. John Kasich’s administration says it is bracing for a billion-dollar hit. Officials say it’ll come from 400,000 new Medicaid clients in the 24 months after the Affordable Care Act begins requiring most people to have health insurance. These are folks who are currently eligible for Medicaid but have never signed up. Just across the border, however, state Medicaid officials in Indiana and Michigan see things much differently. They expect drastically smaller numbers of people to climb aboard their programs — just 15,000 in Michigan and 92,000 in Indiana — when the so-called individual mandate for health coverage begins in 2014…”
  • Deal may reinstate Pa. residents dropped from Medicaid, By Aubrey Whelan, October 24, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “More than 100,000 Pennsylvanians who lost Medicaid benefits last year can reapply within the next 30 days, thanks to a settlement between a Philadelphia legal team and the state Department of Public Welfare. Applicants who lost their benefits last year and incurred medical bills could see those bills resolved if the state determines they were eligible for Medicaid all along. Last year, DPW identified about 385,000 households that were overdue for redetermination – in other words, the agency needed to check whether those recipients were still eligible for Medicaid…”
  • Cuomo’s Medicaid changes are at Washington’s mercy, By Nina Bernstein, October 23, 2012, New York Times: “Depending on who is doing the talking these days, New York State is either a national model of how to curb Medicaid spending, or the nation’s prime example of Medicaid abuse. Now billions of dollars in state revenue may ride on which image prevails, as presidential politics puts a new spotlight on the joint federal and state spending program for care of the disabled, the elderly and the poor. No state spends more Medicaid money than New York — $54 billion a year. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, persuaded health care providers and major health worker unions to live within a strict Medicaid spending limit last year, and to accept an ambitious Medicaid redesign that promises better health outcomes at a lower cost…”

Medicaid Cuts – Maine

State’s Medicaid battle now a court case, By Steve Mistler, September 6, 2012, Morning Sentinel: “Maine’s standoff with the federal government over an estimated $20 million in Medicaid cuts has escalated to a court battle. Attorney General William Schneider said Tuesday that his office has petitioned the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals to force the federal government to approve Maine’s application to eliminate health care benefits for about 33,000 people, or begin paying Maine’s share of the coverage. The petition follows last week’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would not expedite its decision on the state’s application. The LePage administration asked the agency in August to rule on the application by Sept. 1. Federal law allows 90 days to ratify or deny changes to a state’s Medicaid plan. The LePage administration says an expedited decision is necessary because Maine has balanced its budget based on the $20 million in anticipated savings from the health care cuts. The administration submitted its application Aug. 2…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Possible food stamp cuts causing anxiety, By Laura Figueroa, August 19, 2012, Long Island Newsday: “Food stamp enrollment on Long Island has doubled since the start of the recession, and recipients and advocates fear the impact of budget cuts under consideration in Congress. With nearly 178,000 Nassau and Suffolk residents receiving food stamps, local advocates say any cuts should be delayed until the economy rebounds. However, both the House and Senate appear poised to approve some level of cuts to the $80-billion-a-year federal program. Last year, New York accounted for $5.3 billion of the total. The Senate has passed a bill that would cut spending by $4.5 billion over five years — a reduction of $90 per month for the average New York beneficiary, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. House Republicans are fighting over a version that includes $16 billion in cuts to the program over a decade; the most conservative members of the GOP caucus are pressing for even more cuts to the food stamp program…”
  • For some college grads, getting by means relying on food stamps, By Julie Siple, August 20, 2012, Minnesota Public Radio: “More than 520,000 Minnesotans now receive food stamps. The numbers have soared across the country since the economic downturn. Some of the new names on the food stamp rolls are people you might not expect: recent college graduates. Brooke Holmgren, 22, has something many young graduates do not — a job. But it’s not the job she imagined she would find after earning a degree in English from St. Catherine University in St. Paul in 2011. She delivers sandwiches for minimum wage…”