Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, along with a coalition of governors, on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue opposing its plan to cut food assistance.
President Trump’s USDA has essentially proposed eliminating Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). An estimated 3 million people nationwide could lose benefits, with 500,000 schoolchildren could lose free breakfast and lunch at school.
This change also would kick 85,446 adults and 58,743 children in Michigan off food assistance, according to Whitmer’s office.
The governors signing on are from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“If we want to lift people out of poverty and grow our economy, we must work together to ensure they have the support they need, not make deep cuts that make it harder for them to provide for their families and save for the future,” said Whitmer. “We’re joining together to fight back against this attack on low-income Americans to protect access to healthy food for hundreds of thousands of low-income families, children, people with disabilities, the elderly, farmers and food producers. It’s time for the President and Secretary Perdue to do the right thing and rescind this proposal on behalf of hardworking families everywhere.”
BBCE is a policy that requires states to enroll eligible applicant households in SNAP for food assistance if they’re already qualified for other benefits limited to low-income people, most notably Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). States utilize BBCE to adopt less restrictive income and asset tests and to better coordinate SNAP with other state-operated programs. Whitmer’s office said the result has been an increase in low-income households getting access to the food assistance they need, while also making SNAP easier and less costly for states to administer.
However, Perdue has said in a statement that the policy has been used to “bypass important eligibility guidelines” and amounts to “abuse of a critical safety net system.”