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5/26/2017 RouteFiftyTrumpBudgetPlanCallsforStatestoPayAbout25%ofFoodStampBenefitsby2023

Connecting state and local government leaders

Trump Budget Plan Calls for States to Pay About 25% of

Food Stamp Benets by 2023

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds up a copy of President Donald Trump's proposed scal 2018 federal budget. ANDREW HARNIK / AP

By Bill Lucia | MAY 23, 2017

A cost-sharing arrangement the administration has proposed would mark a

major financial restructuring of the SNAP program, which covered $66 billion
in benefits last year.

WASHINGTON President Trumps budget proposal would dramatically alter the

way states and the federal government divvy up the cost of providing food stamp
benefits to low-income Americans in the years ahead.

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5/26/2017 RouteFiftyTrumpBudgetPlanCallsforStatestoPayAbout25%ofFoodStampBenefitsby2023

The proposed shift would confront states with significant new costs at a time when
some of them are already facing financial pressure. And there are worries that the
presidents plan, if enacted, could lead to poor households losing access to
assistance they use to buy groceries.

Currently, the federal government pays all of the benefit costs for the food stamp
program, known formally as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

But the White House spending plan for fiscal year 2018 released on Tuesday calls
for state governments to pitch in matching funds. The phased-in state match would
start at a national average of 10 percent in 2020 and rise to an average of 25 percent
in 2023.

Trumps budget estimates that the matching program along with other changes to
SNAP would lead to nearly $191 billion in federal savings over a decade.

Food stamp benefits cost about $66 billion during 2016.

A 10 percent share of that total would have been about $6.6 billion.

"States in general are having tight margins right now, John Hicks, the executive
director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, said by phone on
Tuesday. If you're talking about something on the order of $7 billion, generally, as
a new obligation, that's a real number.

Trumps budget says that the match program would rely on a formula that
incorporates economic indicators to determine the share of SNAP benefits that
individual states would contribute.

States do currently pay a portion of the administrative costs for SNAP. But these
costs are minor compared to the bill the federal government foots for benefits. The
administrative costs fall into a category of expenses that totalled about $4.3 billion
last year.

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Melissa Boteach, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center
for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group, criticized the proposed cost
sharing arrangement for benefits.

This is a big deal and it will hurt a lot of struggling families, she said.

An average of about 44 million people participated in the SNAP program each

month during 2016.

When you shift costs to states in that way, in some cases they wont step up and in
other cases they may step up there, but end up cutting other funding, Boteach said.

The White House budget plan notes that the food stamp cost-sharing proposal
would allow states to determine their level of SNAP benefits and that it is fairly
and reasonably designed and gives States options that can mitigate the effects of the
funding shift.

Boteach said a Center for American Progress analysis found that the Trump plan
could lead to eight million households losing SNAP benefits over the coming

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on Monday that the proposed
cost-sharing arrangement was meant to set up a dynamic where states have some
skin in the game.

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The administration is also seeking to tightenwork requirements for the food stamp
program for able-bodied adults without children.

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Look, if theres 44 million people on there, eight years from the end of the
recession, maybe, maybe it's reasonable to ask if there are folks who are on there
who shouldnt be, Mulvaney said at a press briefing on Tuesday, referring to the
Great Recession.

That is a reasonable question to ask, he added. I would even suggest to you it's a
compassionate question to ask.

In 2007, the number of monthly SNAP participants averaged around 26 million. But,
since 2010, the figure has hovered between 40 million and 48 million.

Part of this is that corporations are not paying their workers enough to afford
food, Boteach said. People are turning to SNAP because their wages are too low,
or because theyre searching for work, or because theyre a child, or a person with
a disability, or a senior.

From a state budget perspective, some of the factors currently posing challenges
include sluggish tax revenues, pension costs for retired public workers and
maintaining school systems. Low oil and natural gas prices are added difficulties in
states with economies closely linked to those commodities.

Hicks was not aware of any robust dialogue between the Trump administration and
state officials about the prospect of transitioning to the state match program for

Thats why I would say this is going to be a surprise to states, he said. It wasn't
preceded with a notable set of conversations.
Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executives Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.


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