Raising SNAP’s gross income limit supports work

Raising SNAP’s gross income limit supports work

Food assistance benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) generally taper off as income rises, ensuring that most SNAP recipients are better off when they get a raise at work. But some SNAP recipients—particularly working families with high childcare costs—face a financial cliff when their income rises enough to make them ineligible for the program, but not enough to make up for the benefits they lose. A new proposed change to Louisiana’s SNAP rules would smooth out this benefits cliff and give working families a boost. Danny Mintz, director of safety net policy at the Louisiana Budget Project explains how raising the program’s gross income limit supports work: 

Without an increase in SNAP’s gross income threshold, many families with childcare costs face a steep cliff if they earn just over the income limit. In fact, a family with typical childcare costs earning just one dollar over SNAP’s gross income limit stands to lose $383 every month in benefits that would otherwise keep food on their tables. … Setting SNAP’s income threshold 200% of the Federal Poverty Line turns the benefits cliff into a gentle slope, gradually reducing benefits as income rises, even for working parents who receive higher benefits while they pay for childcare. This change supports working families, helps fill in for the high cost of childcare in the family budget, and encourages work by boosting workers’ earnings. The proposal to adopt BBCE to lift SNAP’s income threshold is the right policy for Louisiana families.

The urgent need for more housing vouchers
The rising cost of rent and home utilities has left many low-income people struggling to make ends meet. While federal Housing Choice Vouchers are the most effective way to deliver large-scale assistance to renters, the program is woefully underfunded, only reaching 1 in 4 households that qualify. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Will Fischer makes the case that more housing vouchers are urgently needed. 

Providing more housing vouchers could help many additional renters cope with higher costs and hold on to their homes. Housing vouchers are well-designed for this purpose, because they cover the gap between 30 percent of the household’s income and typical rent and utility costs in the local market. Research shows that vouchers reduce homelessness, overcrowding, and housing instability among people with incomes around or below the poverty line. While some have suggested that providing vouchers to more people in need would drive rents up by raising demand for housing, research on previous voucher expansions shows that new vouchers are unlikely to have more than a minimal impact on market rents.

The Big Risky
Quickly reducing fossil fuel emissions is the only way New Orleans and the rest of southeast Louisiana can be relatively safe from the existential threat that climate change poses. That was the verdict from a new United Nation’s report published last week. But preventing deadly consequences of climate change will require state politicians to listen to scientists — and take action — something that The Times-Picayune | Advocate’s Bob Marshall is not confident will happen

That can’t be done on a purely voluntary effort. It will require stiff mandatory government regulations, many of which will cause financial hardships for industries and consumers. Unfortunately, most politicians in this state are in the GOP, whose policy is fighting to reduce or avoid the pain for the fossil fuel industries producing the emissions. But every delay they accomplish pushes this city and region closer to that warning from the hard facts contained in the science and visible in the world around us. That strategy is why (we) have gone from The Big Easy to The Big Risky. They should start thinking about what the next nickname could be.

Juvenile justice reform is overdue
An investigation into Louisiana’s troubled juvenile justice system by ProPublica, NBC News and the Marshall Project found that at around 31 children were warehoused at the high-security Acadiana Center for Youth in St. Martinville with little access to education, counseling, exercise or basic human interaction. An Advocate editorial notes that the conditions directly contradict the state’s alleged commitment to take a therapeutic approach with young offenders. 

The news organizations discovered youths subjected to solitary confinement, shackling, and limited counseling and education. Attorneys and advocates representing two of them said one saw a counselor for 30 minutes a week, and the other had to wait for two weeks before seeing a counselor. Louisiana law requires six instruction hours each day, but youth representatives said one had 45 minutes of online instruction daily and the other met his teacher just once. In fact, the state Department of Education, which provides instruction to incarcerated youths, didn’t learn of the facility’s existence until it had been open for several months.

Number of the Day
$450 million
– The amount of state subsidies that Exxon-Mobil has received from the state of Louisiana since 2008. (Source: Good Jobs First)