Statement by DMARC on the passage of Senate File 494
As expected, yesterday the Iowa Senate passed Senate File 494 along party lines. The fight around the supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is not a new one, but somehow the dialogue around public assistance never changes.
Elected officials claim their job is to ensure tax dollars are being responsibly allocated around public assistance in our state. At a time when Iowa is consolidating and streamlining government, the sticker shock of this bill alone should be enough to walk away from the table. Is 2.8 million dollars and 200 new full time state employees responsible?
In other cases, Iowa requires far less of people who receive government benefits. Take for example the landmark school voucher legislation passed earlier this legislative session.
This law is giving children at up to 300% of the federal poverty level about $8000 (more than twice the maximum individual SNAP benefit over 12 months) a year for private schooling without an asset test.
For people seeking out food assistance in rural Iowa (at most $300 a month), there may be another school, but their options for food assistance are likely far and few between. Under the new law, if a family were to accept a school voucher even their education savings account could kick them off SNAP. How can a child be expected to have the concentration to learn if they haven’t eaten? Why aren’t we prioritizing food first?
The facts are simple – SF 494 and its counterpart in the House, HF 613, would remove Iowans from SNAP and other public assistance programs and increase hunger and food insecurity in the state. All while having little to no savings around SNAP. But the facts don’t seem to matter.
At a minimum, families with children should be spared from this legislation. With the current asset limits, there is no way this bill passes without taking food away from children. Families will have to make hard choices to stay afloat, and will remain stuck in a cycle of poverty. Every lawmaker who votes yes to it is complicit.