OLYMPIA, Wash. - The budget released this week by President Trump substantially reduces funding to programs that are "foundational to strong, healthy families and communities."
The impact of this will be felt statewide in Washington, especially among children and families that are struggling to make ends meet.
Leadership from the departments of Health (DOH) and Social and Health Services (DSHS) have concerns the budget proposal from the White House that would impact almost 900,000 Washingtonians who receive food benefits – more than 300,000 of whom are children.
“This proposal takes the wrong approach to providing healthy, nutritious food to our neighbors with limited resources,” said Secretary of Health, John Wiesman. “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program works because it gives people the freedom to choose what they want to eat.”
“My agency strives in transforming the lives of the citizens it serves,” said DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange. “This budget proposal takes a step back in helping some of our state’s most vulnerable – children, the elderly and those with disabilities.”
The impacts of the president’s budget proposal include:
- Changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) undermine the health and well-being of children, families and communities.
- The shift to government-prescribed meal options reduces healthy choices for families. Families come from a wide variety of cultures and background and should have the dignity of deciding what food is best for their family. The box of items that would be provided to people receiving food assistance under the new program assumes all families need the same thing and would undermine the ability of a family to make healthy and culturally appropriate choices. In addition, by reducing the dollar amount received in benefits the new program would reduce the positive economic affect that food assistance has in communities. Currently, for every $1 a family receives, $1.74 is generated in the community.
- New rules will increase the number of elderly Washingtonians needing to find employment. Proposed legislation would increase the age range for Able Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) to 62 (the current range is 18 to 49). The impact of adding the elderly population to work requirements will be twofold: elderly Washingtonians will have to work to access assistance that keeps them from going hungry and the additional barrier of employment will result in people being kicked off the program.
- 77,000 single people with disabilities will see a substantial reduction in food assistance. The proposed changes would eliminate the WASHINGTON Combined Application Project (WASHCAP), which provides increased food assistance to nearly 77,000 single-person households that receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Reductions to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program will disproportionally harm children. Over 70 percent of those receiving TANF cash assistance are children, and TANF funds also support childcare for families with low incomes by supporting parental employment and the early learning experiences of children. Reductions to the program weaken a lifeline to assistance when children and parents need it the most.
- Accelerates reduction in federal support for the TANF program. Funding for the TANF program has remained stagnant since 1996 and has lost more than one-third of its value over time. A 10 percent reduction would further erode the quality of benefits people receive. In addition, the budget eliminates over $40 million in funding that helps maintain Washington state’s health and human service budget.
- Reducing federal funds for refugee services would jeopardize programs that help individuals and families to get jobs, learn English and become members of our communities.
Staff at DSHS and DOH will continue its shared work to protect and improve the health of people in Washington state, ensuring residents are healthy, safe and supported.
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