Dem lawmakers call on Kasich to drop requirement changes in SNAP program

Ike Mgbatogu | 11/1/2013, 9:11 a.m.
“Individuals living in poverty in urban areas should not be treated differently than Individuals living in poverty in rural areas ...

COLUMBUS – The recent decision by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to change the eligibility requirement for individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is not at all going down well for two Democratic lawmakers, prompting a letter they fired off to the governor seeking a summary reversal of the new requirement.

Recently, Kasich decided to scrap the federally approved waiver guidelines for qualifying as a recipient of benefits in SNAP. The changes now require that recipients must meet certain “work requirements as a condition of food assistance.”

The governor’s conditions include the requirement that SNAP recipients be placed in job training and then afterwards be offered temporary jobs.

For State Representatives Dan Ramos from Lorain and Michael Ashford from Toledo, that’s all fine and dandy, but now they have a question for the governor: Where are the jobs for these folks to fill.

“Getting Ohioans back to work is our top priority,” conceded Ramos and Ashford in their letter, “but we first have to make sure there are good jobs to fill.” The governor’s decision comes two months after gloomy reports show that Ohio employers cut 8,200 jobs in August for a state that ranks “47th in the nation” when it comes to job creation.

Given those glum realities, both lawmakers expressed the fear that in the event local Job and Family Services offices are unable to place SNAP recipients in job training and jobs, they will be dropped from the program.

Their words, “It is disheartening to think that Ohioans who want to work, job training and food will be denied these opportunities because of this decision.”

Not everyone in the state will be affected by this, though. Sixteen counties, mostly rural, will be exempted from these new requirements, a realization that caused Ramos and Ashford to really question the basic fairness in the governor’s decision which they said will mostly affect recipients in large metropolitan counties.

“Individuals living in poverty in urban areas should not be treated differently than Individuals living in poverty in rural areas of Ohio,” they complained.

Outside of this being a draconian policy, Ramos and Ashford also decry its timing, noting that Kasich decided to implement this change at a time when Ohio is struggling to create jobs. They spoke about “Ohio’s stagnant job growth and high unemployment numbers as precisely the reasons why this is particularly a bad time to do this, of course, not that a better timing would have caused them to support this change.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com