SNAP Provisions in Ohio Budget Raise Red Flags

Dangers to SNAP lurk in the Ohio budget - AdobeStock
Dangers to SNAP lurk in the Ohio budget

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Conference Committee working on Ohio's budget could vote as early as today on measures that could make it more difficult to access food assistance.

At the last minute, provisions were added to the Senate version of the budget aimed at reducing fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Hope Lane, public policy and external affairs associate at the Center for Community Solutions, said those include asset tests that would cut off assistance for people with roughly $2,200 dollars or more in the bank.

"There's a lot of reasons that people would have that money in their account," Lane outlined. "They could be saving for tuition. They could be saving for first month's, last month's and a security deposit. But if you happen to be recertifying your SNAP eligibility and have that money in your account, under this, you would not be eligible for SNAP."

The asset test would allow the first $4,650 dollars of a vehicle to be excluded. Other provisions include requiring SNAP recipients to report every change in income, and prohibiting raises in the initial eligibility for SNAP assistance.

Lane argued the changes are not needed, because SNAP has one of the lowest fraud rates among public-assistance programs.

Lane also contended the provisions create more red tape that can deter participation in SNAP during a time when nearly one in eight Ohioans is struggling with hunger.

"There are a lot of states, conservative and liberal, that have learned from the pandemic that people in their state are hungry," Lane observed. "They were hungry before the pandemic, they are hungry after the pandemic. Instead of making it harder for people to access benefits, they have made it easier. And Ohio is just not following the same trend."

The changes were inserted into the Senate version of the budget bill just weeks ago. They were initially part of Senate Bill 17, which faced opponent testimony earlier this year from 60 groups and individuals.
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