House Budget and SNAP Block Grant Proposal

SNA wanted to circulate the proposed budget for your reference. This was released March 20, 2012. It was submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives for fiscal year 2013 and beyond, builds upon the budget that was written and passed by the House last year by the House Budget Committee. Here is the full budget proposal.

Of particular interest are the following excerpts from page 43 of the proposal which address block grants:

  • Convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a block grant tailored for each state's low-income population, indexed for inflation and eligibility beginning in 2016 - after employment has recovered. Make aid contingent on work or job training.
  • Begin devolving other low-income assistance programs to the states. State Governments can better tailor assistance programs to their specific populations, providing a more robust safety net and reducing waste in these programs.
  • With regard to federal low-income assistance programs, starting with SNAP, this budget proposes two of the reforms that led to the success of welfare reform in the late 1990s.
  • First, the budget ends the flawed incentive structure that rewards states for signing up ever-higher numbers of recipients. By capping the open-ended federal subsidy and freeing states to come up with innovative approaches to delivering aid to those who truly need it this reform encourages states to reduce rolls and help recipients find work.
  • Second, it calls for time limits and work requirements like those that proved successful at cutting welfare rolls in half and reducing poverty nationwide. These changes would be phased in gradually, however, to give states and recipients opportunity to adjust and the employment time to recover.

What is a Block Grant and Why is it Bad for Child Nutrition?
Currently, child nutrition programs are entitlement programs, meaning that the federal funding for the program is guaranteed. Block grants would eliminate that guarantee because they provide a finite amount of funding each year, with the amount going to each state determined by a formula. SNA has more details about the potential impacts of child nutrition block grants here.

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