Nixon reverses stance on cuts to food stamps

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon announced Oct. 24 that his administration is withdrawing support for its own proposal to change the state's food stamp program.

Two weeks ago, his administration proposed changes to the food stamp program that could have removed nearly 60,000 Missourians off the food stamps rolls.

Nixon's policy reversal drew praise from his fellow Democrats.

"The proposal to prematurely tighten food stamp eligibility was the wrong move at the wrong time, and the governor did the right thing today by reversing course," said the House Democrat's assistant floor leader, Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, called the original proposal "nothing less than callous." But she added, "He did the right thing and now I know he truly has a heart."

Nixon's administration did not respond to repeated calls to ask about the reversal.

When Missouri accepted federal stimulus funds in 2009, it also received a waiver to allow able-bodied adults without children to qualify for food stamps without meeting the program's traditional work requirements.

The state Department of Social Services had proposed letting that waiver expire for all counties, except those with higher than 10 percent unemployment.

Scott Baker, the state director of the Missouri Food Bank Association, said people still need help from food banks.

"There are more and more people going to food pantries in the state of Missouri, so that doesn't speak to any kind of improvement in the economy as far as I can tell," he said.