Texas Congressman Pushes Pilot Program for Food Stamp Reform

Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock, Big Spring, Abilene) recently proposed that Texas take part in a pilot program for food stamp reform in a letter to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The program is part of a larger effort to help families find work in the private sector while decreasing dependency on food stamps. 

The new pilot program being pushed by Neugebauer is included in the 2014 Farm Bill. Last week the Texas Congressman, who is also the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee, penned a letter to the TWC that pointed to options for food stamp reform. The letter said, "Spending on SNAP has grown tremendously over the past few years.  Instead of just bandaging the problem, we should focus on creating genuine opportunity that will improve the quality of life for the families who need it most."

Rep. Neugebauer continued, "While I think we could have done more to improve nutrition assistance so it makes more efficient use of taxpayer dollars and better serves families in need,  I’m pleased that we were able to include some SNAP reforms in the Farm Bill. This pilot program includes work requirements and employment training to create opportunities for Americans to move off food stamps. I would be proud if my home state could be a forerunner in demonstrating the success of these reforms."

The letter, which was co-signed by Senator John Cornyn and 16 members of the Texas congressional delegation, "strongly encouraged" Texas to get involved in the program to set an example of effective welfare reform for other U.S. states.

"While we are proud of the work Texas is already doing to get SNAP recipients in the state back to work, participating in this pilot program will allow the state to expand these efforts by allowing for greater flexibility to implement innovative new practices," the letter said. "We strongly encourage Texas to apply to become one of the ten states in the pilot program created in H.R. 2642 to set the standard for national reform."

Almost one in six, or 47.5 million, Americans rely on food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food stamp spending exceeded $80 billion last year, but the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has argued the program needs increased funding. In 2012, $6 billion was spent on food stamps in Texas alone; about 3.3 million Texans currently receive the food subsidies.

Neugebauer argues he has been a consistent voice advocating for reform in the food stamp program. He has said it is important to ensure that families and individuals who receive the subsidies genuinely need the assistance. In December on C-SPAN he said, "I hold a responsibility to everybody in this country — in particular the taxpayers — to ensure that we are doing these programs effectively... Moving forward we want to make sure that everybody that is on the program that we are doing everything we can to make sure that they qualify for it."

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate


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