The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) helps more than 726,000 Michigan households put food on their tables. President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would shift a significant share of the cost of SNAP and other vital programs to states, however, and would for the first time allow states to cut SNAP benefits. This would seriously threaten SNAP’s long-term success in reducing hunger and malnutrition, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Although states are responsible for some of the administrative costs, SNAP benefits have always been fully funded by the federal government and passed through by the states directly to households. This is to ensure that regional disparities in hunger, poverty and resources are properly addressed, which in turn helps ensure that low-income households have access to adequate food regardless of the state in which they live.
The president’s budget would end this longstanding and successful approach by forcing states to cover 10% of SNAP benefit costs beginning in 2020 and increasing that share to 25% in 2023 and later years. The proposal would cut federal SNAP funding by $116 billion over a decade and shift the costs to states, costing Michigan $542 million in additional annual costs and nearly $3.8 billion over the full 10 years of the Trump budget. This is all in addition to the potential block granting of SNAP that would also cause major problems for Michigan.
Lest any readers doubt the integrity and effectiveness of SNAP as a federal assistance program, here are a few facts:
- In Michigan and across the country, SNAP is the federal means-tested program most responsive to poverty and unemployment. The number of households receiving SNAP increases as unemployment and poverty go up and decreases as the economy recovers.
- SNAP has one of the most rigorous payment accuracy systems of any public benefit program. The result is that in recent years, less than 4% of SNAP benefits have been issued to ineligible households or in improper amounts.
- SNAP is good for the economy and giving families SNAP benefits to spend in their local grocery stores during economic downturns helps their communities recover economically. Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 of economic activity.
The Trump budget proposal jeopardizes the ability of struggling families to put food on their tables. Given the size of the cost shift to states, Michigan would have to either drastically cut monthly food assistance benefits for SNAP participants (which states are allowed to do under the proposal), cut state funding for other critical programs or raise taxes. Do we really want to put our state in such a position rather than support a federal assistance program that has been working very well?
What is more, this cost shift would come on top of hundreds of billions of dollars in other cost shifts to states in the Trump budget. In total, the president’s budget would shift about $453 billion annually to states and localities once cuts are fully implemented in 2027—while at the same time including massive tax cuts largely for the wealthy and corporations that would likely cost several trillion dollars over the coming decade.
This is the biggest attack that we’ve seen in decades on the programs that Michigan and American families are depending on to survive. We urge readers to contact your members of Congress and urge them to reject the president’s SNAP cuts and other devastating budget cuts.
— Peter Ruark