Daily Court Reporter - News Free enterprise organization supports legislation requiring work for food stamps
Free enterprise organization supports legislation requiring work for food stamps
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
A group advocating public policy based on the principles of free enterprise has thrown its support behind a legislative measure that would add a work requirement to the state's administration of food stamps.
House Bill 608's requirement would apply to able-bodied individuals and give consideration to a parent who is taking care of children younger than school-age.
Sam Adolphsen, vice president of executive affairs for Opportunity Solutions Project, told members of the Community and Family Advancement Committee in the Ohio House of Representatives, that, as is, the state's current welfare is failing too many Ohioans.
"Not everyone shares your goal of moving people from independence to self-sufficiency, and in some cases, your generosity is being taken advantage of," he said. "The result is a welfare system that has grown dramatically.
"In the Year 2000 there were just about 600,000 people on food stamps in Ohio. Today, there are 1.4 million."
According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission's fiscal analysis, the state last year disbursed $2.17 billion in federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding to individuals in 723,000 assistance groups.
"Instead of program resources being focused on lifting up the truly needy, able-bodied, working-age adults are increasingly dependent on the program," Adolphsen continued. "There are more than 400,000 working age, able-bodied adults on the program. And unfortunately, more than half don't work at all.
"So instead of filling one of the hundreds of thousands of open jobs in Ohio, they stay stuck in dependency long-term."
HB 608 would prevent the state from seeking exemptions for the time limits - three months every three years - for childless, able-bodied adults who receive SNAP benefits if the individuals do not meet work requirements, generally 80 hours a month of work and/or participating in an approved workforce program.
Analysis provided that states may seek a temporary waiver to these requirements in areas where unemployment is high and that Ohio has received this waiver for select areas of the state.
Additionally, the bill would mandate Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to require individuals subject to the general work requirements, but who are not otherwise able-bodied and without dependents, to participate in its employment and training program.
Parents with school-aged children would be required to work, train or volunteer part-time to continue receiving food stamps to ensure they are taking the first steps towards independence, Adolphsen said.
"ODJFS may need to expand the capacity of some of its workforce training programs in order to provide training opportunities to workers that may be required to participate under the bill," Nicholas Blaine wrote in the legislative service commission's analysis.
Another of the bill's provisions would verify SNAP users' income and assets do not exceed the federal program's allowance.
"And finally, (HB 608) requires parents on welfare to cooperate with the state's attempts to collect child support in order to continue receiving benefits," Adolphsen said, indicating that one out of three single-parent families on food stamps in Ohio receive the child support they are owed.
Individuals would be asked to cooperate with ODJFS's efforts to establish paternity and comply with the terms of a child support order as a condition of eligibility.
"As the former chief operating officer of Maine's Health and Human Services Department, I saw the results firsthand when we applied these solutions," Adolphsen continued. "After we implemented food stamp work requirements in Maine, incomes doubled and caseloads dropped by 90 percent.
"Florida saw similar results, and people got off of welfare, going back to work in hundreds of different industries. And when Kansas required cooperation with child support in order to receive food stamps, collections increased dramatically."
He said if the Buckeye State were to experience the same increase in child support collections, it would mean an additional $12 million in child support given to families.
"Voters are on your side," he told lawmakers. "They understand the difference between the safety net and those who abuse it.
"The same 75 to 80 percent who support the safety net also believe in preserving food stamps for those who truly need help."
Sponsored by Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, HB 608 has cosponsor support from seven fellow House members.
The measure had not been scheduled a third hearing at the time of publication.
Date Published: December 19, 2018