State Jobs Bill Funded with Food Stamp Cuts

Aug 13, 2010

By Elizabeth Kenefick

On August 10, the House of Representatives returned briefly from recess for an emergency session to approve by a vote of 247-161, a $26 billion state jobs bill.  President Obama signed it into law that evening.  The bill, which directs $10 billion to prevent cuts in education jobs and $16 billion to state aid by extending the enhanced federal share of Medicaid and child welfare cost, passed the Senate the week before. 

This bill was fully paid for, and thus did not increase the deficit.  Unfortunately, nearly half of the cost of the bill - $11.9 billion -- was offset by reductions in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. 

As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that passed in February 2009, the maximum SNAP benefit was increased by 13.6 percent. This helped some of the most vulnerable families, and also promoted economic growth by putting money in the pockets of those who will spend it the fastest.   Under ARRA, SNAP benefits were supposed to remain flat until food price inflation caught up with the increase.  With the new jobs bill, SNAP benefits will revert to their regular levels starting in October 2014.

While nearly all Democrats supported the state jobs bill, many have called for undoing the cuts before they are set to take effect.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chairwoman of the subcommittee that funds Agriculture Committee programs, was quoted as calling the decision whether to  vote for food stamp cuts or oppose the jobs bill a "Sophie's Choice."

The Senate version of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill also contained cuts to the SNAP funds from ARRA.  If this bill is also enacted, a family of four would see their SNAP benefits fall by an estimated $59 starting in November 2013.  The Food Research and Action Center has responded by calling for the Congress to pass the House version of the Child Nutrition.

site by Trilogy Interactive