State Reps. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) and Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich on Thursday requesting that he immediately rescind the decision to unfairly alter requirements for individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Gov. Kasich recently extended the SNAP federal waiver to only 16 Appalachian counties, disproportionately affecting Ohio’s urban areas and other rural counties around the state. The federal waiver was preapproved for all 88 Ohio counties.
The lawmakers note that Ohio’s stagnant job growth and high unemployment numbers indicate that it is not the right time to create further obstacles for the state’s most vulnerable.
A copy of the letter can be seen below:
October 24, 2013
Governor John Kasich
77 S. High St., 30th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Dear Governor Kasich,
We write today to express concerns with the recent decision that could limit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for those Ohioans most in need. Furthermore, the decision to disproportionally administer new requirements to predominately urban populations is troubling and creates very serious legal and ethical questions.
Ohio’s unemployment rate is the highest it has been since June of 2012, with 7.3% of Ohioans seeking work unable to find a job. In August alone, employers across the state cut 8,200 jobs. Our state’s stagnant job growth combined with troubling job creation numbers — 47th in the nation over the last year — seem to indicate that this is the worst time to create more obstacles for vulnerable and hungry Ohioans.
Getting Ohioans back to work is our top priority, but we first have to make sure there are good jobs to fill. In response to your decision to forgo the preapproved federal waiver for work requirements as a condition of food assistance, local Job and Family Services offices have expressed that they will be unable to place all required SNAP recipients in job training programs or with temporary work — causing the state to unnecessarily disqualify current recipients.
It is disheartening to think that Ohioans who want work, job training and food will be denied these opportunities because of this decision. In Cuyahoga County alone, this decision will require that more than 29,000 Ohioans quickly obtain part time work to continue to put food on the table. We cannot simply speculate that these part-time job opportunities exist, as it is apparent that Ohio is still struggling.
Additionally, exempting only 16 rural counties from these more stringent requirements raises serious legal and ethical questions. Individuals living in poverty in urban areas should not be treated differently than individuals living in poverty in rural areas of Ohio.
Ohioans facing new eligibility requirements, many of whom reside in urban areas, live in counties where the unemployment rate is simply a few tenths of a percentage point different than those still eligible for the waiver. Given the facts that Ohio is the 10th most food-insecure state in the nation and approximately 1 in 6 Ohio households faced food insecurity from 2010 to 2012 – it is clear that widespread hunger knows no county line.
For the aforementioned reasons, we are writing to implore you to immediately reconsider the limits you have imposed on those in need of food assistance in these trying times. Without this very basic level of support, Ohioans’ chances of raising themselves up out of poverty become much tougher. When someone is hungry, getting trained and prepared to look for jobs, interview for jobs, and function in our society is made that much more difficult.
56th Ohio House District
44th Ohio House District