Beshear: Measure would cost Kentucky millions in food aid | Health, Medicine and Fitness
By BRUCE SCHREINER – Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Struggling Kentuckians would lose additional food stamp benefits if a Republican-backed measure to end the COVID-19 state of emergency becomes law, Gov. Andy said Monday. Beshear.
The state’s GOP-dominated legislature finished work on the measure last week, sending it to the Democratic governor. Beshear took no action on the measure, but condemned it as “politics at its worst”. The resolution empowered the legislature with enough votes to override a governor’s veto.
Kentucky residents stand to lose massive amounts of money in additional food stamp benefits, the governor said at a news conference. Beshear said his administration consistently emphasized the additional benefits of federal food stamps when discussing the virus-related state of emergency with legislative leaders.
“Ending this state of emergency, cutting $50 million worth of food from our people, is a mistake,” he said. “And for what? There are no COVID restrictions in Kentucky. None. is no restriction there.
“All they will do is take food off the tables of the elderly and troubled children,” the governor added. “My faith tells me it’s wrong.”
State Senate President Robert Stivers said the resolution indicated that lawmakers had no intention of “disrupting or delaying” the state’s ability to receive pandemic-related federal funds. Stivers suggested another potential remedy to the extended dietary benefits through the emergency regulatory process.
“If the governor needs anything from the legislature, he still has time to come to us and we have time to respond,” Stivers said in a statement Monday.
As the resolution passed through the Senate and House, Republican lawmakers trumpeted it as a signal that life is returning to normal after the long struggle with the pandemic. But some Democratic lawmakers had expressed concern that the resolution could cause harm.
The Beshear administration cited the impending impact on food stamp benefits as an example.
If the governor and lawmaker “don’t resolve something quickly,” the resolution could cost the Bluegrass State dearly in additional food benefits, said Dustin Pugel, senior policy analyst at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.
As of February, about 544,000 low-income Kentuckians qualified for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Due to the pandemic, the federal government provided about $50 million more in monthly SNAP benefits to Kentucky, Pugel said.
But action by the Legislature on the resolution would result in about a $100 drop in the average profit of $243 a month, Pugel said. The federal government can only provide the additional benefits to states with a declaration of emergency related to COVID-19, he said.
“Seniors on fixed incomes and the working poor and their families will see their benefits cut the most,” Pugel said.
The legislation is Joint Senate Resolution 150.
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