Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump executive order strengthens work requirements for neediest Americans, By Tracy Jan, April 10, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law, By Jason Stein, April 10, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force…”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal heating aid program saved, expanded in Trump budget, By David Sharp (AP), March 24, 2018, Spokesman-Review: “A federal heating aid program for low-income residents has survived another attempt by President Donald Trump to kill it. The $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by Trump on Friday includes $3.64 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The energy assistance funding includes an extra $250 million, the first increase in five years…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Proposed work requirements could add uncertainties to Wisconsin’s Medicaid system, By Guy Boulton, March 28, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin is among the 10 states that want to impose work requirements on some healthy adults who get health insurance through their Medicaid programs. However, unlike Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas, which have received federal approval for work requirements that they plan to implement immediately, Wisconsin’s requirement wouldn’t kick in until a healthy adult hasn’t worked for four straight years…”
  • Republicans’ new welfare reform focus: Low-income men, By Tami Luhby, March 28, 2018, CNN Money: “A generation ago, Republicans focused on reforming the nation’s safety net by requiring poor mothers to work. These days, the Trump administration and Republican leaders are once again looking to overhaul government assistance programs. But now they are zeroing in on a new group: low-income men.  Much of the focus this time centers on requiring able-bodied, working age recipients to get jobs or participate in other community activities if they want to receive Medicaid or food stamps — two of the largest public aid programs in the US with tens of millions of enrollees each…”
  • WV Gov. Justice quietly signs SNAP work requirement bill, By Jake Zuckerman, March 27, 2018, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill into law Tuesday that will impose work requirements on certain adults receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…”

Welfare Reform

  • Would new limits on food stamps help or hurt children? Missouri lawmakers disagree, By Tessa Weinberg, March 14, 2018, Kansas City Star: “As Republican lawmakers push bills to tighten access to the state’s welfare programs, their critics worry one group of Missourians could be hurt the most: low-income children. A handful of bills would put greater restrictions on people receiving aid through federal welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, or food stamps…”
  • Missouri House supports bill adding welfare program restrictions, By Suman Naishadham, March 15, 2018, Columbia Missourian: “House members approved new restrictions and penalties for individuals who use two welfare programs on Thursday, despite impassioned arguments the move will create unfair financial hardships for those who rely on the funding…”
  • Trump’s vow on welfare faces an uncertain future, By Glenn Thrush, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “In his State of the Union speech two months ago, President Trump vowed to end welfare as he defined it, heralding a plan to force recipients off federal housing vouchers, food assistance and Medicaid if they were not willing to do ‘a hard day’s work.’ Days before the speech, as part of the plan, several federal departments took steps to impose the stricter work requirements on able-bodied adults receiving noncash aid. The move could result in the loss of subsistence benefits for as many as four million poor, single adults over the next few years, experts say. But Mr. Trump’s effort faces an uncertain future…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Food boxes, not stamps? Idea in Trump budget worries grocers, By Kristen De Groot and Gene J. Puskar (AP), March 5, 2018, Denver Post: “Finding fresh food in this tiny riverside community that was hit hard by the steel industry’s decline has always been a challenge. Then, seven years ago, Carl’s Cafe opened. The grocery store, near new government housing, offers cooking classes and a source of fresh, healthy food. Proprietor Carl Lewis even has customers sign a pledge: If he provides fresh produce, they’ll buy it. Five such purchases, and they get their sixth free. About half his customers pay with benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, so the government’s proposal to replace the debit card-type program with a pre-assembled box of shelf-stable goods delivered to recipients worries him and other grocery operators in poor areas about their patrons’ nutrition, and their own bottom line…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s unprecedented welfare reform could inspire conservative changes elsewhere, By J. B. Wogan, February 27, 2018, Governing: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is poised to sign a sweeping package of bills aimed at reducing welfare rolls by expanding work requirements and adding other restrictions. The proposals include several changes that no other state has tried and would require approval from the federal government…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Rewards program encourages SNAP recipients to make healthy choices, By Teresa Wiltz, February 28, 2018, Stateline: “Cities and states are trying new ways to entice food stamp recipients to eat their fruits and vegetables. One approach that’s gaining popularity: offering rebates to low-income families when they buy fresh produce. A program in Massachusetts was so popular that it ran out of rebate money and had to be suspended…”
  • How might Trump’s food box plan affect health? Native Americans know all too well, By Maria Godoy, February 25, 2018, National Public Radio: “The Trump administration unleashed a flood of outrage earlier this month after unveiling a proposal to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. The plan would replace half the benefits people receive with boxed, nonperishable — i.e. not fresh — foods chosen by the government and not by the people eating them.  Among those horrified at the thought: American Indians who recognized this as the same type of federal food assistance that tribes have historically received, with devastating implications for health…”

Budget Proposal and Safety Net Programs

  • Trump’s budget hits poor Americans the hardest, By Tracy Jan, Caitlin Dewey and Jeff Stein, February 12, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump proposed a budget Monday that hits the poorest Americans the hardest, slashing billions of dollars in food stamps, health insurance and federal housing subsidies while pushing legislation to institute broad work requirements for families receiving housing vouchers, expanding on moves by some states to require recipients of Medicaid and food stamps to work…”
  • Trump wants to end states’ power to make food stamps more accessible during recessions, By J.B. Wogan, February 14, 2018, Governing: “The Trump administration, which often stresses the need for states to have more flexibility, wants to give them less when it comes to food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)…”
  • New study lauds food stamps’ anti-poverty impact as Trump weighs alternative, By Steve Goldstein, February 15, 2018, MarketWatch: “As the Trump administration weighs slashing and dramatically reshaping the food-stamp program, a new study finds the program dramatically cuts the poverty rate. The Urban Institute released a study on what’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is better known as food stamps…”
  • Trump’s proposal to end heating assistance called dangerous for rural Minnesotans, seniors, By Maya Rao and Jim Spencer, February 14, 2018, Star Tribune: “In northwestern Minnesota, Corann Fladhammer has relied on $1,400 in federal assistance to heat her home as temperatures plunged in recent months. Without it, she said, it would be difficult for seniors like her to stay in their homes…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Assembly Republicans pass full slate of Gov. Scott Walker’s welfare limits, By Jason Stein, February 15, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday approved Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed welfare limits and sought federal help to cover more of the nearly $90 million in costs from the proposals…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – North Carolina

North Carolina food stamp numbers are too good to be true, By Lynn Bonner, January 31, 2018, News and Observer: “An abrupt drop in food stamp use that had North Carolina leading the nation in the rate of people leaving the program turned out to be a fiction. Since last May, federal reports showed steep year-over-year drops in people enrolled in food stamps in North Carolina, with the participation rate declining faster than in any other state. In September 2017, the state reported fewer than a million people enrolled in food stamps, a low not seen since 2008 and one that represented a 40 percent decrease over 12 months…”

States and Welfare Reform

  • Where the work-for-welfare movement is heading, By Jen Fifield, January 25, 2018, Stateline: “As President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress set out to impose tougher restrictions on welfare, their conservative allies across the country are trying to help them accomplish their mission, state by state. Republican governors and state legislators are moving ahead with proposals that would make it harder for people to get and keep welfare benefits and restrict what benefits they get. Measures already have been floated in about a dozen states, and, policy analysts say, what happens in states in the coming year will serve as an indicator of what’s to come nationally…”
  • Report: Poor families struggling with Kansas welfare rules, By Madeline Fox, January 25, 2018, kcur.org: “Income that doesn’t come close to the poverty line. Persistent job insecurity. Shifting schedules and irregular hours. Cumbersome barriers to state assistance meant for the neediest Kansans. A new report from the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities paints a stark picture of the Kansas welfare system. Analysts focused on two major changes to Kansas welfare eligibility rules enacted under Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration — work requirements and time limits…”
  • Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget would let welfare recipients keep more benefits while working, By Shira Schoenberg, January 25, 2018, MassLive: “A proposal in Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget aims to help welfare recipients return to work by continuing to pay them benefits even after they start a new job. ‘We’re going to make it possible for people who work to be able to continue to do so past the point that they would have been able to historically,’ Baker said Wednesday…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin, Maine

  • Scott Walker calls special session on bills making changes to welfare programs, By Molly Beck, January 18, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker called on lawmakers Thursday to take up a slate of bills that would make sweeping changes to the state’s welfare programs — including requiring parents to work in order to receive food stamps and requiring residents in subsidized housing to be screened for drug use…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pushes welfare overhaul to include work requirement for parents on food stamps, By Jason Stein, January 18, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With unemployment low and a tough election looming, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Thursday for a special legislative session to overhaul the state’s welfare programs. The GOP governor is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits and increasing the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30…”
  • LePage says Trump administration again blocks ban on food stamps for junk food, By Eric Russell, January 19, 2018, Portland Press Herald: “For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a request by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to ban food stamp recipients from using their benefits to buy sugary drinks and candy. His spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said Friday that the administration would ‘revise our waiver request and resubmit it,’ but she did not offer a timeline…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

Brownback cut welfare in Kansas. Is Congress about to follow?, By Jonathan Shorman, January 14, 2018, Wichita Eagle: “Welfare restrictions and work requirements have knocked tens of thousands of Kansans off assistance over the past few years. Many get kicked out for not working, but only a small percentage leave because they have a job, the latest federal data reveals. Republicans in Congress have said they want to tackle welfare reform. Some, including Rep. Ron Estes of Wichita, say Washington, D.C. should look to Kansas as an example, but it’s unclear whether program cuts in Kansas left recipients better off…”

SNAP Eligibility System – Illinois

Food stamp benefits disrupted for thousands as state launches new eligibility system, By Greg Trotter, December 18, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Tens of thousands of Illinois households aren’t receiving federal food stamp benefits leading up to the holidays because of problems with a state computer system. In 2013, the state’s Department of Human Services began rolling out a new computer system to administer entitlement benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, more commonly known as SNAP or food stamps…”

SNAP and Drug Testing – Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker moving forward with drug testing some food stamp recipients, By Jason Stein, December 4, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker is moving forward with an effort to drug test some food stamp recipients, with testing expected to begin in as little as a year absent action from lawmakers or the federal government…”

SNAP Application Process -Pennsylvania

More than 350,000 Pa. seniors take advantage of streamlined food-stamp application, By Kate Giammarise, November 13, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “More than a year after the state rolled out a vastly simplified application process for some senior citizens applying for food assistance, more than 350,000 older Pennsylvanians have used the streamlined tool. Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services introduced the easier application in June of last year, changing the form from a 24-page document that covered multiple assistance programs to a more manageable two-page application…”

Healthy Food Programs for SNAP Recipients

  • New program buoys purchases of fresh food with food stamps, By Rachel Alexander, November 9, 2017, Spokesman-Review: “Brandaleen Harper used to have trouble affording produce for herself and her son, Gabriel. Harper works part time in child care and said her food stamps often don’t stretch far enough to cover everything she’d like to buy. But a new program through the Spokane Regional Health District and the Washington State Department of Health is making it easier for people using food stamps to buy fruits and vegetables…”
  • Assembly approves giving Wisconsin food stamp users a discount on produce, healthy groceries, By Patrick Marley, November 7, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Some people who use food stamps would get a break on buying produce and other healthy groceries, under a bill the state Assembly overwhelmingly approved Tuesday…”

Welfare Reform – Ohio

20 years after welfare reform, are Ohio’s poor any better off?, By Catherine Candisky, October 15, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “It’s been seven years since Laura Staten hit rock bottom, but talking about it still makes her cry. With her 1 1/2-year-old son, their belongings stuffed into two trash bags, and less than $100 in her pocket, Staten fled an abusive marriage, unsure how to build a new life but determined to do it. ‘I had nothing,’ said the 33-year-old preschool teacher from Bremen, her voice quivering. With new restrictions on welfare, she learned that help from the government would be limited…”

Child Poverty

  • America’s child-poverty rate has hit a record low, By Annie Lowrey, October 5, 2017, The Atlantic: “The economy is nearing full employment. The stock market is at record highs. The expansion keeps continuing. Add to that one more very good piece of economic news: The child-poverty rate fell to a record low in 2016.  That finding comes from a new analysis of government and academic data by Isaac Shapiro and Danilo Trisi, both researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan, Washington-based think tank. The child-poverty rate declined to 15.6 percent in 2016, the researchers found, down from a post-recession high of 18.1 percent in 2012 and from 28.4 percent in 1967. That means that roughly 11.5 million kids were living in households below the poverty threshold last year…”
  • Brownback touts child poverty drop, but progress uneven, By Jonathan Shorman, October 2, 2017, Wichita Eagle: “The figure is eye-catching: The number of Kansas children in poverty dropped by 26 percent over the past five years. Gov. Sam Brownback touted that statistic and others this week, directly linking the decline to his welfare policies. ‘By encouraging work over reliance, we have broken the cycle of poverty for thousands of Kansans,’ Brownback said. ‘Our policies are good for Kansas families, the economy and taxpayers.’ But there’s more to the numbers than meets the eye…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Tennessee to reinstate work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients, By Anita Wadhwani, September 18, 2017, The Tennessean: “Tennessee will reinstate work requirements for food stamp recipients a decade after they were eased during the height of the economic recession, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday…”
  • No power means no food stamps for Miami’s neediest in Hurricane Irma’s wake, By Alex Harris, September 15, 2017, Miami Herald: “Friday morning, Michael Mighty took a bus to 58th Street for a free plate of Curry Gold and peas and rice at one of his favorite Jamaican restaurants. ‘I told them to make it as hot as possible,’ he said. ‘I’m tired of eating sandwiches.’ It might be his only meal for the day. Mighty, 58, still doesn’t have power in his Overtown apartment, and for most of this week, neither did the grocery stores he relied on. Without power, he couldn’t use his food stamps, which come on a debit card-style system these days…”
  • Walmart to allow food stamp users to buy groceries online, By Leada Gore, September 20, 2017, AL.com: “Walmart is rolling out a pilot program that will allow food stamp recipients to order groceries online and pick them up at stores. The nation’s largest retailer is currently offering online ordering for food stamp and other EBT users at one store in the Houston market and four more in Boise, Idaho. More markets will be added throughout 2017, Walmart said in a statement…”