Melissa K. Smith, a senior policy analyst at the Michigan League for Human Services, testified before the Michigan House Families, Children and Seniors Committee about a bill that would remove people from the state’s food assistance programs based on assets rather than income.
In her testimony, Smith argued that such limits will discourage people from saving money and do little to reduce fraud:
Therefore, the Michigan League for Human Services is opposed to the implementation of a $5,000 asset limit for food assistance. If Michigan imposes any asset limits on food assistance, it would be going against the national trend of eliminating asset tests to help families get back on their feet during this economic downturn. Twenty-nine states do not have any asset limits for food assistance.
We certainly agree that food assistance benefits should only go to those who need them and that lottery winners should not receive benefits. However, there is no reason to paint such a broad stroke. Food assistance cases have been skyrocketing since the beginning of the recession. Michigan has led the nation in unemployment, years before employment declined in other states. In 2009, there were 10 unemployed people for every job opening. Even now, there are more than 4 unemployed people for every open job in Michigan…
We need to be prudent in the use of our tax dollars. Implementing an asset limit for food assistance will cost Michigan money. While the federal government funds 100 percent of the food assistance benefit, administrative costs of the food assistance program are shared with the state, approximately fifty-fifty. Caseworkers already manage an average of 900 cases each, and with more than 2 million people on food assistance in Michigan, the additional work of verifying assets seems unfathomable and could increase the workload of DHS caseworkers tenfold. Overburdened staff could also affect error rates and other important outcomes on which the state is audited. The more administrative hurdles we erect, the more the state will pay. Last time that Michigan made a major policy change to their food assistance program, a federal audit was triggered and Michigan was fined $65 million for not meeting program requirements.
The incidence of abuse in the food assistance program is minimal. DHS reports 5,000 prosecutions a year for fraud in ALL assistance programs; that is less than one in 500 participants—about the same odds as catching a ball at a Major League Baseball game. Nationwide, 50,178 of 33.5 million recipients were disqualified from the Food Stamp Program in 2009 for abuse, less than one-tenth of one percent.
This move to impose asset limits was sparked by reports that a man who had won the lottery was receiving food stamps. The MILHS supports an alternative bill that would require information sharing between the lottery and the Department of Human Services, which they say would “specifically address the problem at hand without subjecting everyone to unnecessary and punitive policies.”
$1.3 trillion in federal spending unaccounted for, report finds
Despite calls for independent bodies to keep government accountable, the Sunlight Foundation’s most recent Clearspending report has found the federal
$1.89 billion given to states to fight HIV
The federal government Monday announced more than $1.89 billion in funding to states to fight the HIV epidemic with access to care and with more cash for the failing AIDS Drug Assistance Program. According to an HHS press release , $813 million of that money will go directly to the ADAP programming. An additional $8,386,340 will be issued as a supplement to 36 states and territories currently facing a litany of unmet needs and access issues.
1 Brigade and 1 Battalion
ISTANBUL – It’s 10 p.m. in the lowest level of the Istanbul airport. In 20 minutes I’ll be allowed to board my plane to Kabul, bringing me to the
1. Brian Schweitzer
As governor of Montana, Schweitzer doesn’t represent one of the most highly populated, high-profile electoral states in the country. But this
#1 in Conspiracy Theories
Andrew Young’s tell-all biography of John Edwards, hitting shelves next week, is surging in one Amazon.com category in particular. #1 in Conspiracy
$1 Million for Toomey
Pat Toomey, the former Club for Growth president and leading Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Senate race, has announced a $1 million haul in the
$1 Trillion for Fannie and Freddie?
That is the worst-case scenario, according to Egan-Jones Ratings Co., quoted in a Bloomberg article making the rounds. The agency says that if home prices
$1.3 Million for Brown
The GOP’s candidate in the Massachusetts special election raised more than one million dollars -- double the goal -- in a 24-hour moneybomb on the Ron Paul
Ten Loopholes That Can’t Make It Into FinReg
Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, wrote a blog post that lists the loopholes lobbyists most want inserted into Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.)
Bachmann uncomfortable over earmarks ban
Republicans appear to have boxed themselves into a corner with their portrayal of earmarks as wasteful spending, as many of them have backed a moratorium on
Troubled mine holds hope for U.S. rare earth industry
China currently controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth production. The Mountain Pass Mine could change that -- if it can overcome serious environmental concerns.