Former Governor Ed Rendell has hand delivered a letter to the office of Governor Corbett, asking him to cancel plans to renew an asset test for food stamp recipients. At a news conference on Wednesday, Rendell says the test that would eliminate people from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program based on their personal assets is unnecessary, since there’s already federally mandated means testing.
The Rendell administration ended asset testing in 2008. The former governor says returning to the practice would not produce any savings and would hurt thousands of households. Rendell says there’s no need for this test to get rid of fraud, waste and abuse, because Pennsylvania has one of the best accuracy rates of any state in the union.
Rendell says there wouldn’t be any savings, because the state would have to notify SNAP recipients of the change in policy and retrain all of the county assistance office staff. He says there’s also the economic impact, the loss of federal food stamp money that Pennsylvanians would no longer have to spend in grocery stores.
Rendell says he’s known Tom Corbett for a long time and believes him to be a good, decent man who cares about Pennsylvanians. He’s asking the Governor in good faith to take a look at the policy and reconsider.
Representative Michael Gerber (D-Montgomery) says families would be forced to make tough decisions if this asset test is reinstated. He calls it pennywise and pound foolish because any scarce savings would be far outweighed by any economic harm that it will do.
Kendall Hanna, of the Central PA Food Bank, says the asset test would make it nearly impossible for many people who have been recently laid off to obtain any help through the food stamp program. He says a family would be penalized for saving money for medical emergencies or to repair their car to get to work.
Hanna says the asset test would drive thousands and thousands of people to food pantries and churches already stressed by a 40% increase in the number of people seeking food assistance just in the last four years.
Kevin Harley, spokesman for Governor Tom Corbett, says the number of people in Pennsylvania receiving food stamps nearly doubled while Governor Rendell was in office. He disputed claims the asset test would lead to more administrative costs. He says when people would come in for renewals; they’d sit down with a caseworker who’d go over their assets.
Harley says the Corbett administration wants to make sure that the people who truly need to receive food stamps can get them. He says the administration is still working on setting asset limits.
Harley also responded to concerns the state would lose millions in federal food stamp money due to the change. He says that’s saying Pennsylvania needs to generate more food stamps to have a poverty industry. He says the Corbett administration is trying to create an economic environment where the private sector can grow and create more jobs, so that more people won’t need food stamps.