SB7, a so called " welfare reform" bill , would end the use of "expanded categorical eligibility"in determining a families eligibility for Federally funded food stamps.
To qualify, a family of four for example, cannot have a net monthly income greater than $2,025. Under the expanded calculations, low income families can deduct certain other expenses such as child care when determining net income. The maximum allowable childcare deduction limits are $200 for a child under 2 years old and $175 for over 2 years old.
According to NH DHHS "All available income for all members of your household is counted when we determine your eligibility for Food Stamp benefits. However, we subtract certain expenses from that total. If, after subtracting your expenses, your total net income equals or falls below the monthly net income limits for the number of people in your household, you are considered income-eligible."
The Federal government funds the food stamp program 100% and splits administrative costs 50-50 with the states. 40 states utilize the "expanded categorical eligibility" and in NH, according to this story on NHPR, about 17,000 people could lose eligibility for food stamps if this bill becomes law. In NH, there are 94,000 people all together in this program ,with more than one third being children.
The part of this bill that has been the basis for numerous letters, articles and opinion pieces is that this is not NH driven legislation. An organization called Foundation for Government Accountability under the guise of "welfare reform" has developed a template for the bill where the sponsor simply fills in the blanks and just like that, he or she has a bill that doesn't help a single person in NH, but goes a long way to satisfying political ideology.
In an editorial in Sunday's Concord Monitor, the paper stated that " It’s not a New Hampshire solution; it’s cookie-cutter, Koch-inspired legislation that would put added pressure on local food pantries that already struggle to keep shelves stocked. If state lawmakers want to make sure programs for those in need run as efficiently as possible, that’s one thing. But it’s something else entirely to try to sell people on a one-size-fits-all “reform” that targets the working poor and their children. We also believe legislators should do more than hit cut and paste when crafting legislation for New Hampshire citizens."
True welfare reform deserve more than a Mad-Lib bill by lawmakers too lazy or ideology driven to write it themselves, especially one that has little to no financial impact to NH taxpayers and focuses on reducing vital support for those that are most in need of assistance. No one would argue that the system has those that don't want to work or game it. They should be weeded out , but carefully so as not to hurt the majority that rely on these programs to put food on their tables.