Shankland: Walker Need to Reverse Farm Bill Cuts
For the City-Times
Rep. Katrina Shankland (Stevens Point) and Rep. Evan Goyke (Milwaukee) sent a letter to Governor Walker today, asking him to order a special session for the Wisconsin Legislature to reverse the Farm Bill’s cuts to food stamps in Wisconsin and help feed Wisconsin families in need.
Wisconsin participates in the federal Heat and Eat program, which allows low-income households to receive a boost in FoodShare benefits if they receive at least $1 in low-income energy assistance. The 2014 Farm Bill raised the Heat and Eat energy assistance minimum from $1 to $20 per household, effectively cutting food stamps for 255,000 Wisconsin households. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a Wisconsin family of three living at the poverty line will lose $1,271 in food stamps per year – about $106 a month in cuts.
“Wisconsin should not stand idly by as Congress makes spending cuts on the backs of our most vulnerable residents,” said Rep. Shankland. “A family already living in poverty cannot afford to lose $100 from their grocery budget, and will have an even more difficult time putting food on the table.”
Rep. Shankland and Rep. Goyke recently introduced Assembly Bill 903, legislation to raise the annual amount of federal dollars Wisconsin allocates for Heat and Eat assistance from $1 to $21 per household. While the Wisconsin Legislature adjourned for the session without taking action on Assembly Bill 903, Governor Walker can use his executive authority to order a special session on the bill. Reallocating just $5.4 million of federal funds would preserve$276.3 million in food stamps for Wisconsin families, without spending any state dollars.
“The opportunity to leverage $5 million into $270 million does not come about often. In our private lives, we would jump at the opportunity to multiply our money like this. We only need to value the people battling hunger today to make this decision,” said Rep. Goyke.
“Since the legislature didn’t step up to help Wisconsin’s families in need, we call on the governor to do so now. Governor Walker can negate these harsh cuts and make a real difference in the lives of thousands of Wisconsinites – particularly seniors, people with disabilities, children, and the hard-working families of Wisconsin who live in poverty,” said Rep. Shankland. “Since the governor has already asked the federal government to release the full funds meant for low-income energy assistance, he should have an interest in using those funds to prevent the devastating cuts to food stamps for Wisconsin families. The time to act is now.”