Malloy moves to avoid food stamp cuts

Washington – Gov . Dannel Malloy announced Monday that his administration will increase spending on heating assistance to thwart new federal regulations aimed at shrinking food stamp benefits for at least 50,000 households in the state.

“Connecticut, for one, will not stand by while our low-income families and elders are put at risk by Washington politics,” Governor Malloy said.  “I have directed my administration to take all necessary measures to protect Connecticut beneficiaries of the federal SNAP program from the negative consequences of the Farm Bill.”

The massive farm bill approved by Congress in February sought to cut the food stamp program by about $8.6 billion over ten years by ending a practice adopted by Malloy and other governors. Those governors  gave food stamp recipients as little as $1 in heating assistance benefits, so they would, under a federal formula, qualify for more food stamp assistance.

Under the farm bill, recipients will have to receive at least $20.01 in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, to qualify for increased benefits. Malloy estimated the increase in food stamp benefits is about $112 a year.

To avoid the cuts, Malloy has to shift an additional  $1.4 million into the LIHEAP program, but Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes  said it is  worth it.

“The governor’s directive to expend $1.4 million in available federal energy assistance funding will preserve approximately $66.6 million annually in SNAP benefits for households in Connecticut,” he said.

Malloy is at the vanguard of governors who aim to thwart the Obama administration’s attempt to save money on the food stamp program.

Vermont’s governor , Peter Shumlin, has said he’d do it too, and a few other Democratic governors, including Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Deval, are considering it. But recipients will see their benefits cut in many states.

No member of the Connecticut congressional delegation voted for the  farm bill because of the food stamp cuts. On Monday, they praised Malloy.

“I applaud the governor for moving to protect people in Connecticut whose wallets are stretched to the limits with this law,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

About Ana Radelat

Ana is a longtime Washington correspondent who has won numerous awards, including from The Associated Press and Gannett, has written for more than a dozen newspapers, including USAToday; The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger; the Shreveport (La.) Times; and the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. She’s also been a regular contributor to other publications, including the Miami Herald and Advertising Age. Some of the stories Ana has broken focused on the strategies of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former Sen. Trent Lott’s fall from power and questionable Hurricane Katrina contracts. A regular contributor to WNPR, Connecticut Public Radio, a partner of The Mirror, Ana is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism. E-mail her at aradelat@ctmirror.org.

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