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On April 18, the House Agriculture Committee approved a “reconciliation” bill that, among other things, will eliminate nearly three-quarters of federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) program. If enacted, this provision would dramatically reduce the availability of critical job training services for low‐skilled SNAP recipients, leaving them with few viable options to gain the skills they need to enter employment and exit SNAP.
Under current law, all states are required to operate a SNAP E&T program to provide employment and training services for SNAP recipients. Approximately 2.6 million individuals participated in the program in Fiscal Year 2010, including nearly 1.5 million who used the program to pursue a secondary diploma or recognized equivalent.
Each state currently receives annual funding to cover the costs of program administration — these grants are known as “100 percent” funds because it is 100 percent federally funded. In addition, states may also receive what are known as “50 percent” funds, which are 50 percent federal reimbursements for state administrative costs that exceed their 100 percent allocations, as well as participant reimbursements.
Because federal funds for SNAP E&T are extremely limited — 100 percent funds were less than $100 million last year — the most successful state SNAP E&T programs are utilizing 50 percent funds to provide robust employment and training services to the greatest number of program participants. In FY 2011, states used this funding to leverage more than $260 million in state, local, social enterprise, philanthropic, and corporate dollars.
The bill approved by the committee — the Agriculture Reconciliation Act of 2012 — would eliminate the 50 percent funding, effectively cutting overall federal funding for SNAP E&T by 72 percent compared to current levels. This would significantly reduce the funding available for SNAP E&T programs in at least 28 states, and would eliminate supportive services for SNAP E&T participants in 47 states. In addition, many states would almost certainly reduce their own investments in the absence of the federal reimbursement, further reducing the availability of training and employment services for SNAP recipients.
The reconciliation bill is required under the terms of the House FY 2013 budget resolution, which provided instructions to the agriculture committee to come up with legislation to reduce the deficit by $33 billion over the next ten years. The bill is expected to pass the full House. The Senate has not agreed to reconciliation as part of their budget process, and is not expected to take up the measure.
National Skills Coalition sent a letter to Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), urging them to reject the provision eliminating the 50 percent funds and instead work together to strengthen the program to better serve SNAP recipients. We will continue to monitor developments relating to this program, and provide updates to the field as new information becomes available.