Fear of federal cuts behind food stamp rollback back plan, Nixon says

Gov. Jay Nixon (PoliticMo Photo)

Gov. Jay Nixon (PoliticMo Photo)

LAKE OZARK, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon said a rule proposed by his administration to cut thousands of childless adults from food stamps is necessary to prepare for potential cuts in federal spending.

Speaking with reporters in Lake Ozark on Friday, Nixon, a second-term Democrat, said his proposal to remove Missouri from a federal waiver that allows some 58,000 unemployed adults without children to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program without having to meet certain work requirements confronts the reality that federal dollars for the program might be decreasing.

“It’s clear from all discussions that we’re going to see downward pressure from the federal government,” he said. “You see every plan on the table in D.C. has those numbers going down. Rather than be in reactive mode, we thought the best thing to do was be prepared for the future and move forward accordingly as the resources from Washington are narrowed.”

The Republican-led House of Representatives is mulling a Farm Bill that would slash food stamp spending by nearly $40 billion over the next decade, cutting some 4 million recipients by 2014. Still, without Nixon’s proposed change, Missouri would probably be eligible for the waiver through 2015.

The proposed rule change drew ire from some of Nixon’s allies in the Democratic community, including an email blast and criticism online from Progress Missouri. The group noted that Missouri is the seventh-worst state in the nation in terms of food insecurity, effecting some 1.6 million Missourians.

“I think we should proactive in fighting hunger,” said Sean Soendker Nicholson, executive director of Progress Missouri, in response to Nixon’s argument in favor of the change. “The Governor’s proposal isn’t good for struggling Missourians, and leaves money on the table that would go directly into our economy.”

Nixon’s proposal has not yet been enacted. He pointed out the fact that his administration is going through the rule promulgation process with the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, so elected representatives will have a chance to weigh in.

“The legislature will have a say in looking at this also. I’m not sure that fact was overly-absorbed,” he said.