State House Strengthens Food Stamps Work Requirements

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Legislation to Help SNAP Recipients Transition to Self-Sufficiency

May 1, 2018, Harrisburg, Pa.Today, the state House passed HB 1659, which strengthens existing work requirements for able-bodied adults in Pennsylvania’s food stamp program. This follows a work requirement measure for Medicaid, HB 2138, passed by the House in April. Together, these bills will help thousands of Pennsylvanians overcome poverty and move from dependency to self-sufficiency.

“We congratulate lawmakers for recognizing that work is the most effective way to alleviate poverty,” commented Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Seventeen states already require healthy adults without dependents to work part time or volunteer to maintain food stamp benefits. In Kansas and Maine, food stamp recipients who left the program more than doubled their incomes. That’s a permanent solution to the poverty problem.”

After Kansas applied food stamp work requirements statewide, 75 percent of recipients exited the program and half of those individuals saw their incomes rise by 127 percent. In Maine, individuals leaving food stamps after the implementation of work requirements saw their incomes more than double.

But, in Pennsylvania, work is waived in all but eight counties, despite the state’s skilled-labor shortage.

(Map: SNAP Work Requirements by County)

Work and community service requirements are also popular. Nationally, 79 percent of voters support work requirements for healthy adults on food stamps.

“We should measure the success of government assistance programs not by how many people are signed up, but by how many are transitioning off the rolls to family-sustaining jobs,” continued Stelle. “This legislation would help thousands of Pennsylvanians build a better life for themselves and their families.”

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder 570-490-1042 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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