For 45,000 benefits recipients in North Carolina, there’s a new sheriff in town, one who put forward tough new legislation that was astonishingly bipartisan. Better still, it was built on common sense.
Here’s the key point: If you’re able-bodied, and have no dependents, your Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is about to have strings attached.
Here are a couple of the highlights affecting adults 18-49 with no dependents:
- Food Stamp enrollment will no longer be open-ended.
- Recertification every 6 months will be required.
- Twenty (20) hours of work a week will be required to qualify
- That work will be reviewed to deter fraud
- If you don’t find qualifying work in 3 months, you’ll be cut off for 3 years. Valid options include::
- 20 hours (or more) at a regular job
- 20 hours or more volunteering
- Work training program.
- This legislation is the reinstatement of work requirements from the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act” of 1996 suspended by Obama back in 2008.
So what happens when 45,000 people have more rigorous demands on what must happen for them to qualify for benefits? That depends on the person.
Some, who may have simply been demoralized or discouraged could get the kick in the pants that helps them get up and face the day, maybe getting back into the workforce.
Others, having a skill set they can’t find work with might get retrained to do a job where demand is better.
And — human nature being what it is — another group will look around at the strings now attached to the program, and will scrutinize the enforcement side. If the promised standards are followed through with and enforced, another dynamic will open up. Residents of NC currently receiving aid under false pretense might see the end of the free ride approaching. If they aren’t the type to cowboy up, and pay their way through life, they might fall into that other category.
They might start looking to other nearby States with markedly less rigorous accountability. They could self-select themselves out of the population of North Carolina and show up somewhere else.
This last reason by itself (and its associated costs) is sufficient reason that other States should give this strategy some careful thought, before they find themselves the dumping ground for someone else’s white elephant.