While former Governor Robert Bentley was using Alabama taxpayer funds to fly helicopters to find his wallet and nearly getting himself impeached for misusing campaign funds (amongst other things), he was standing out front with his baton in the Republican hypocrite-parade. Since the beginning of the year, Alabama has cut away the “work requirement” exemption that was in place during the economic crash for people receiving food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Since January 1, thousands have been purged and now the remaining counties that still had the exemption have also seen thousands of people going hungry.
During the economic downturn of 2011-2013, several states – including Alabama – waived the SNAP work requirements in response to high unemployment. It was reinstituted for 54 counties on Jan. 1, 2016 and for the remaining 13 on Jan. 1, 2017. As of April 2017, the highest jobless rate among the 13 previously excluded counties was in Wilcox County, which reported a state-high unemployment rate of 11.7 percent, down more than 11 percentage points from the county’s jobless rate for the same month of 2011.
As of Jan. 1, 2017, there were 13,663 able-bodied adults without dependents receiving food stamps statewide. That number dropped to 7,483 by May 1, 2017. Among the 13 counties, there were 5,538 adults ages 18-50 without dependents receiving food stamps as of Jan. 1, 2017. That number dropped to 831 – a decline of about 85 percent – by May 1, 2017.
The good news is that Alabama is saving a few dollars. The bad news is that this bullshit form of bootstrap-pulling isn’t going to motivate people any more than they already are. Those areas don’t have an abundance of jobs, nor meaningful public transportation for people to get even volunteer work to meet these magic requirements.
Robert Gain volunteers in the kitchen at First Stop, Inc. and said he is trying to meet the requirements.
“Most of the people around here, their food stamps are canceled, and this is the only meal they’re going to get today,” Gain said.
Gain’s food stamps ran out on April 1. It’s because of changes to the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which limit people to receive three months of benefits within a three-year time frame unless they are working or volunteer training for at least 20 hours a week.
Gain is lucky as there aren’t enough positions, even in the volunteer world, to get the required hours needed. The good news is that Gov. Bentley was hoping to find a nice place for everyone to live.
Gov. Robert Bentley said a plan to borrow $800 million to build four new state prisons will be his most important goal during the 2017 legislative session, which is two weeks away.
You don’t have to wear a tinfoil hat to know that the Republican Party is driven by a racist and classist prison state ideology.