|Food stamp cuts could be unlikely|
|Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 25 September 2013 09:32|
Cuts and changes to the federal food stamp program are viewed locally in the same way many national figures see the issue.
The proposal is political and has little chance of moving forward.
The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would slash funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, by $40 billion over the next ten years. It also contained provisions that institute work, job-placement and drug-testing requirements.
Supporters say the bill only affects able-bodied adults receiving aid and argue it's necessary to reform the system.
The bill represents a 5-percent cut in funding for the program relied upon by nearly 9,000 Wood County residents. A family of four is eligible to receive up to $632 per month, depending on income.
According to the Associated Press, one in seven Americans receive help through SNAP.
The changes must still pass through the Senate and face the threat of a presidential veto, which is why Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Job and Family Services, doesn't exactly think the sky is falling yet.
"I see that $40 billion proposal as a political maneuver rather than an actual attempt at reforming the program," he said.
"Typically we wait until it looks like a piece of legislation is really on a track to passing before we get too engaged with it. There's always a lot of proposals out there."
Wigent said Wood County has voluntarily been implementing a work requirement "for quite some time," though drug-testing measures have not proven to be a true problem-solver.
U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), who supported the cuts, said it was essential to maintaining the integrity of the program.
"We want to make sure to help people out," he said. "There are an awful lot of difficult situations out there. At the same time you want to make sure folks who aren't eligible aren't getting those benefits because they are taking away from somebody else who should be getting it."
The problem, he said, is that food stamps were supposed to help those who were looking for work. But those requirements, he said, were waived for more than 40 states. That work requirement should be in place.
Also, the House bill ends the practice of allowing applicants for SNAP and other benefits to be automatically enrolled in other social service programs if they are determined to be eligible for one. In some cases the person would not be eligible for programs they were automatically enrolled in, Latta said.
The bill he supported, he said, states "if you are a federal felon you wouldn't be eligible for federal assistance."
Sentinel staff writer David Dupont contributed to this story.
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