The office of Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy plans to curb the number of food stamps benefits for thousands of people if they fail to meet the requirements by Oct. 1.
For years, Alaska has waived the federally set requirements because states can apply for waivers of the “20 hours” compensation rules at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in cases of a high unemployment rate or low job opportunities, Fox Business reported.
Those rules demand that able-bodied people between 18 and 49 have to participate in employment, work training, or an approved volunteer position for 20 hours per week in order to qualify for the food program.
Alaska is looking to amend terms for areas with unemployment under 10 percent. Only able-bodied adults with no dependents would be required to fulfill the federal work requirements.
The plans come as a result of the administration’s wish “to comply with the spirit and intent” of federal rules, Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow told the Anchorage Daily News.
Dunleavy vetoed line items equaling $444 million in reductions to Alaska’s operating budget in June.
The measures would affect some 6,900, or 7.9 percent, of the 87,920 people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, as it is colloquially called, according to Shuckerow.
“SNAP is a program that is a safety net for people in their time of need, but also is a program that is clearly about encouraging participation in the workforce and self-sufficiency,” Shuckerow told the Anchorage Daily News. “It is not being treated as a direct cost-saving measure.”
“Given the variety of allowable work-related activities, the department is not anticipating a large number of individuals will lose eligibility,” Shuckerow said in an email to the Associated Press.
The Republican-controlled Alaska State is following a trend that has federally set out under the Trump administration, which recently proposed new regulations that would save taxpayers $2.5 billion a year by ending food stamp benefits for an estimated 3 million people, by taking away states’ ability to automatically enroll welfare recipients in the program.
5.8 Million People No Longer on Food Stamps Under Trump
Over 5.8 million people are no longer on food stamps since President Donald Trump completed his first month in office in February 2017, according to the new data by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The data of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which came out on June 7, shows that in February 2017 there were 42,132,132 individuals participating in SNAP (pdf). This figure has since decreased to 36, 302,242 in 2019—showing a 5,829,890 drop in people on food stamps over that period.
In the same time period, the number of households dependent on SNAP decreased from around 20.8 million to less than 18.3 million—a drop of more than 2.5 million households.
Breitbart News says that the current figure of 36,302,242 SNAP participants is preliminary as the administration of food stamps in 2019 was impacted by the government shut down of late 2018.
The cost of the program also declined in the same time frame by over $880 million, from $5.2 billion to $4.4 billion.
Trump has tweaked the program a number of times, including curtailing waivers on work requirements.