Archive for Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kansas lawmakers want to review food stamps change

January 25, 2012


— Some legislators said Wednesday they plan to review a new state policy that has reduced or cut off food stamp benefits to hundreds of U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants in Kansas.

The bipartisan group of lawmakers acknowledged that they're sympathetic to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's administration trying to ensure that families with illegal immigrants aren't being treated more generously than families whose members are all legal residents. The administration said the change simply means all Kansas families are treated the same.

But the lawmakers worry that the effect will be most felt by children whose families were eligible for food stamps under the old standard but have since lost the benefits. The lawmakers said the state is punishing children rather than cracking down on illegal immigration.

Brownback has asked SRS officials for updates on the new policy but he's not looking to modify it, his spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said. Some lawmakers said the Republican-controlled Legislature could consider revising the policy.

"It has the effect of denying food to children, which is something I could never support," said Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican and a member of the budget-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee. "We need to get further explanation from SRS."

The new policy from the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services took effect Oct. 1 for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, previously known as the food stamp program.

The policy changes how household incomes are calculated for determining eligibility. SRS said the change means all families now are being treated the same, whether some members are illegal immigrants or not.

Since the policy took effect, 1,042 households with 2,066 children have lost their SNAP benefits though it's unclear how many of the affected households had illegal immigrants, SRS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said. The state is providing SNAP benefits to about 137,000 households, meaning the change potentially affected fewer than 1 percent, she said.

Before the new policy took effect, SRS had for a decade calculated a lower household income if some family members couldn't show they were living in the U.S. legally. For example, if a household had two working parents who couldn't show they were in the U.S. legally and two U.S.-born children, SRS counted half of the parents' income.

As a result, families with illegal immigrants could qualify more easily for SNAP benefits than families with no illegal immigrants, de Rocha said. Also, some families received benefits when their incomes would have disqualified them if all members had been legal U.S. residents, she said.

"We're just computing everybody's income the same way," de Rocha said. "Kansas citizens have a right to expect that their government treats them at least as well as people in this country illegally. That's why we changed the policy."

But some legislators argue that the change still affects poor children. Under current federal guidelines a family of four can't qualify for the benefits unless its household income is less than $2,422 a month. Even then, SRS does another calculation that examines a family's expenses, such as housing.

"We need to make sure that the kids aren't unfairly getting less food than they need," said Rep. Jerry Henry, of Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Social Services Budget Committee. "You have to look at what's happened to the kids."


Orwell 6 years, 4 months ago

That's the ticket! Starve those U.S. citizen/children! It's the Christian thing to do!

DRsmith 6 years, 4 months ago

Here we go. Continue the pacification of illegals. Free food and heck, we will even throw in in-state tuition. No surprise that we have a ton of them in KS. Make it harder on them so they will go back to TX and AZ.

DRsmith 6 years, 4 months ago

Fair enough, I am all for changing the stupid law that says children born to illegals in the US are citizens first. Does that make you feel better about it?

deec 6 years, 4 months ago

That stupid law is the constitution.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, that crummy old Constitution. Protecting children. How dare it do such a thing? Those babies should have waited as long as necessary before being born. Selfish infants. Always trying to get something for nothing.

DRsmith 6 years, 4 months ago

Really? Wow, are you a teacher? Pretty sure it was written before we had illegals overrunning the country.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 4 months ago

We allegedly didn't have "illegals overrunning the country" simply because the US didn't limit immigration at that time. Of course, in 1924, we had to pass a law making Native Americans one could argue that we were overrun by 'illegals'...even though they were here first.

By the way, do you know why such a clause was included in the Constitution??? Just curious.

patkindle 6 years, 4 months ago

food stamps,? just give them the cash, and cut out the middle man and please,no drug tests, that aint fair, hope and change you know

Khublai_Juan 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree that it may not be the best way to go about closing the loophole, but there are a lot of inherent problems when dealing with non-citizens and benefit eligibility determination.. Non-citizens are basically able self-report the existence and amounts of any income being received and the verification requirements are then much more lax than with citizens. Unlike with citizens, there is no way to verify if a non-citizen is or has recently worked, it is basically up to them to admit to whether they are working or not. When they do work, it is often tax-free, under the table earnings. Since eligibility is determined using gross income for citizens, if we are counting the earnings of a non-citizen they are still earning more than a citizen b/c they will not then have taxes, Social Security, etc. taken out of their take home pay. Non-citizens also can essentially get cash assistance for free as well, which is another perk. If a citizen gets cash assistance, they will be required to participate in work program at least 20 hours week, which is intended to lead to a job and get them off of assistance. Because the state cannot place a non-citizen into a work program b/c of their illegal status and b/c they cannot be expected to obtain legal employment without a work visa or permanent alien card, non-citizens are allowed to receive cash assistance for their children with no participation requirements. If they so choose, non-citizens are able to hang out and have us pay them monthly with no expected requirements and they only have to report employment earnings if they choose to/feel like it. With these conflicting policies, it is easy to see how this issue can get charged with emotion on both sides. So wrong or right, this was at least an attempt to remedy one of the inequalities. I believe that the difference in taxes and Social Security that the non-citizens usually do not have to pay is in itself enough to offset any difference in food stamp benefit amounts that have occurred due to this policy change.

foppa 6 years, 4 months ago

As of 2005, the Social Security Administration had reported that undocumented immigrants had paid about $520 billion dollars into Social Security. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for these benefits ( National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences) Between one-half and three-quarters of undocumented immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. And all undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes

You are making a big assumption here. All undocumented immigrants do not work for cash (see above). If a person is using a fraudulent SS number to work, the SRS can still pull up WHERE that social security is used. Most of the time, the SRS workers (the good ones anyways) also asks employers directly to fill out income sheets OR asks the person to get the income from their boss with contact information. Although what you are saying is an argument that I hear over and over, I find that many of the people who think this way have little experience with the actual system and how it actually works.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

By the very nature of the issue, there are going to be things we can only guess at. Illegal immigrants pay taxes at times but there are other times they get paid under the table. Due to the desire for secrecy by both parties, it's a difficult number to guess at, but it is very real. They work at jobs Americans don't want, like meatpacking plants and in agricultural fields. But they also frequently work in the trades, taking jobs Americans are very willing to do while at the same time depressing the wages of legitimate workers in those fields. They receive services in sanctuary cities where it is against local law to even as a person their status, so the value of services provided is a guess. If the question is whether or not these illegal immigrants provide a net benefit or not, then I'd guess it's about even. But what I do know is they are breaking the law. And if we send the message that it's O.K. to break the law sometimes, others will be encouraged to break the law. And that will certainly have a negative impact on our society.

Khublai_Juan 6 years, 4 months ago

I did not say that all undocumented immigrants work for cash, I just said that it happens quite often. On the other side of that, however, many of the non-citizens will self-report their earnings. As far as being able to see where the SSN is being used, you can only look this up if they provide it. This is not usually going to happen, b/c they know it is illegal and they shouldn't be using that number. Moast are afraid that they will lose access to it if they provide it.
As for the employer statements, many employers will refuse to fill them out b/c they know they should not be employing non-citizens and are afraid they will get into trouble. In this situation the workers will have to use the KEESM policy that states that when the employer refuses to provide the info, then whatever verification that can be obtained can be used, which is mainly client statement. This does happen quite often. I do find those statistics about the non-citizen contributions to Social Security, federal and states taxes to be quite interesting and informative. One of the questions I would have about the stats, though, would be how much of those contributions are paid in through a citizens SSN that is being used by a non-citizen. It may help the citizens Social Security, but I bet it sure messes up their taxes at the end of the year. And another common issue is that non-citizens will apply for themselves and their children, knowing they are not eligible, and leave their spouse who is working off of the application. For food stamps it is not even a requirement to provide the name and info of the absent parent, as participation with Child Support Enforcement is totally voluntary. Whenever it is discussed during an interview for cash assistance, or if CSE goes after the spouse to pay child support to offset the state funded assistance, the spouse has usually left the country and gone back to Mexico or something along those lines. I would love to see some statistics on the success rate of establishing child support orders against non-citizen absent parents. CSE usually only has a name of the absent parent, and there is essentially no way to find someone with no other identifiable information to use to track that person in any of the income reporting systems or even look them up by public records.

kariholt 6 years, 4 months ago

I do agree that families with illegals should be required to follow the same income guidelines as other families...why is this even a question? These families aren't being denied benefits they are being held to the same calculations as everyone else; they should consider the past how many ever years the inequality has been going on a blessing and count the blessings they have now if they don't qualify because if they don't qualify that means they are above the "poverty" level. If an American family doesn't qualify for a household of 4 over $2422 a month and they are making ends meet then why wouldn't a non-citizen family be able to do the same!!!!

kariholt 6 years, 4 months ago

Maybe to decrease the amount of money spent on SNAP the government should initiate some sort of contraceptive policy! If you're getting government assistance there is no reason you should be having more children. Some people genuinely need the help...maybe going though a rough time unable to find work but there are people out there who keep having babies and are lifers!

TinmanKC 6 years, 4 months ago

Contraceptives! GASP!!!!!! In Brownbackistan? I wouldn't be surprised if eventually the kooks won't put Genesis 38:9 into law... after all, that's preventing life.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

Well, if they can outlaw abortions, birth control is next on the list if they can get away with it. Listen to Rick Santorum on this topic; he's happy to carry that water.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 4 months ago

Before this change, a household with 5 family members, including 2 citizen children and 3 non-citizens over the SNAP age, earning $1,600/month was eligible. Eligibility was determined by pro-rating the $1,600/month to 2/5 of the amount and determining eligibility for a 2 person household.

Now, the Brownback administration takes that $1,600/month earned in a 5 person household and pretends only 2 people live there.

As a defense, they claim this 5 person household with 3 non-citizens was receiving benefits that a household with only citizens would not. However, a household with 5 citizens earning $1,600/month is eligible.

It is one thing to base your policy on the fantasy that two children are earning $1,600/month and there are no other members of the household.

It is another to defend it with a lie about that family is being treated more generously. No evidence has been presented to indicate that is true, which is why 46 other states refuse to sign onto this ridiculous policy.

kariholt 6 years, 4 months ago

If what you are saying is in fact true Bob_Keeshan I would have to agree that isn't fair. This article doesn't seem to give enough information; of course that's journalism and politics. To base a household size off of just the children or citizens isn't fair to the children at all. I don't think the household should receive benefits for the noncitizens but they should be counted in the household size when determining eligibility. Is this rule going to apply to the Healthwave/Medicaid as well? I used to work for them and determined eligibility and we counted the noncitizens as part of the household size they just were not allowed benefits.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

Get a grip people. This nonsense is just that....nonsense. SNAP, Foodstamps, whatever you want to call NOT, first and foremost, set up to feed people: It's set up to fuel Agri-Business and make sure them price supports and subsidies get paid to the REAL WELFARE recipients in these here parts: Fat Cat Agri-Business farmer types who are rolling in the moolah.

Correct......politicians have created "hungry children" as a smokescreen for "We gotta make sure these 1%'ers get paid their welfare checks". We're talking BIG BUCKS and, the most insulting aspect of price supports and welfare payments to the wealthy is that the farmers who grow FOOD don't get this money!!! Ain't no supports or subsidies for edible food like green beans, lettuce, tomatoe, onions, spinach, carrots, people corn (plenty of welfare out there for gasohol....and the gasohol plants are pretty much owned and controlled by the farmers growing that cheap corn to make gasohol).

Man, this stuff is really pretty funny when you think about it!

Paul R Getto 6 years, 4 months ago

You forgot the sugar mess, which increases prices on most products for all of us and it's based on our "fear" of the Cubans. Sheesh.........

Bob Forer 6 years, 4 months ago

All I can say is 'food stamp president.' I don't have a mind of my own and I get all my information and knowledge from Rush and Fox News. Love Bill O'Riley. Them boys are pretty smart, and its hard keeping up with them, but I think I can remember 'food stamp president.'

I wonder what it's like to be smart like Newt.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Cut off the corp welfare and reverse the food stamp decision.

Who made the food stamp decision? Were members of the Kansas legislature bypassed by Dictator Gov Sam Brownback?

BigDog 6 years, 4 months ago

merrill - Here is a little civics lesson for you. The legislative branch makes laws and sets budgets for state agencies. The executive branch sets policies and has responsibility for day to day operations of programs.

In you mind is President Obama a dictator also? Was Governor Sebelius? .... they made many changes in programs through policy?

Not saying it is right or wrong but Governors and Presidents have been doing this for some time. It has become more prevalent it seems over the last 10 years.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 4 months ago

"Pretty sure it was written before we had illegals overrunning the country."

False. In fact, the first 50 years of Kansas history is basically the immigration of "illegals" populating different regions, including Hays, central Kansas, southeast Kansas, Kansas City neighborhoods, etc.

These were illegal Europeans, and the hatred towards these illegal "races" such as Irish, Italian, Swedish, Polish, and German was no less vitriolic than the spewings of those concerned we have "illegals overrunning the country".

It's a shame KRichards' ancestors weren't rounded up and sent back to where they belonged.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

Only three other states calculate eligibility in this way: Arizona, Utah and Nebraska.

The U.S.D.A.......the same outfit that sends out those large welfare checks to pay farmers to grow corn so they can turn around and sell their own corn to their own ethanol plants so they can get some more welfare dollars.....permits the states latitude in the calculation of benefits. As is noted above, Kansas is now the 4th state to use this "new method": It's been available for quite some time, too. Why utilize it now when even more people are finding it necessary to access their rights and make application for the SNAP (food stamp) program? One answer: Pettiness. It ain't going to save the state of Kansas one single dime.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

"access their rights" To which "right" are you referring?

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

Public assistance is a right in THE United States of America I was born in; reside in; pay taxes to; and believe. A RIGHT.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

I have no need for public assistance, but since it's a "right", then denial would be a violation of my "rights". Is that correct?

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

Sure would be, provided you qualify in the first place. Suggest you file the proper appeal/fair hearing paper work, then sit and wait. You can bet Brownback and Company are working on the rules to slow the fair processing to an even slower crawl than it already is at. I know what they need to do to make it even slower, but I'm not tellin'!

jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

What other "rights" do I need to qualify for? What forms do I need to get my freedom of speech or freedom of religion? Or is this"right" some kind of special right that only some people can get and some other people can be denied. But then it wouldn't be a "right", would it? Maybe it's a "right" in your United States of America but not in my United States of America.
If you just changed the words around, if you said: "in my opinion, food stamps should be a right of every American", then there would be little to argue with. You're entitled to your opinion. But you're not entitled to mine.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

It's your right. If you choose to exercise it, so be it. If you choose not to exercise it, so be it. Public assistance is a right in the USA provided you meet the eligibility/means test requirements. It's pretty simple really.

I understand when your a mega buck loaded down citizen, the load you bear impacts on abstract reasoning abilities.

It's sorta like public education, which is also a right. I pay for it, too and don't use it; don't have any kids who use it; don't have any relatives who use it; but I recognize it's an American right to have access to public schools. Rights. Good things, these rights.

Now price subsidies and price supports are what you call entitlements and welfare. These are not rights. These are a blight on the Nation and the bums getting the dough what with their hands out and all need to be slapped back to the curb and instructed to obtain employment. These welfare bums are bringing down the nation. And that 15% captial gains tax is an entitlement and needs to be stopped to day. Only welfare bums get to use that thing. It's not a right. It's a scurge on the economy of the U.S.A. Same with the gutted estate tax.....people who don't have to pay an estate tax on a zillion dollar property are welfare cheats and need to be rounded up and sent out to Marion, IL and the big house for a nice little time out.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

"I understand when you're mega buck loaded down citizen, the load you bear impacts on abstract reasoning abilities".

I'll rephrase that for you. When you've spent a lifetime working hard, obeying the rules, and living in a responsible manner and having firmly established yourself in the middle class, you've come to see that living in that way provides certain benefits not available to those who don't work hard, don't obey the rules and don't live in a responsible manner. And that each has known consequences and rewards. And that we live with those consequences and rewards. And that we should live with those consequences and rewards because to have it otherwise is what will prevent people from using their inherent reasoning abilities.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago you mean kinda, sorta, down with public schools?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

umm, like, kinda, sorta... having trouble with abstract reasoning abilities? I would kindly ask you to refrain from those sorts of rude accusations, and I will do likewise.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

Oh, Alceste is only trying to help because it reads, jhawkinsf, like you're kinda sorta having some difficulty in understanding what "THIS" is all about.

Alceste is simply here to serve, assist, and help anyone confused with what is what. shrug

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