SNAP decreased quite a bit nation wide. What was the rational behind cutting it? When will it increase again? What is the forecasted funding for the next 5 years of SNAP?
We adjust SNAP maximum allotments, deductions, and income eligibility standards at the beginning of each Federal fiscal year. The changes are based on changes in the cost of living. COLAs take effect on October 1 each year. Maximum allotments are calculated from the cost of a market basket based on the Thrifty Food Plan for a family of four, priced in June that year.
The reduction in SNAP benefits that occurred last October was due to the ending of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) . The purpose of the ARRA, also know as the economic stimulus, was an attempt to jumpstart the economy with increased government spending.
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) increased monthly benefits for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by an average of 15 percent. The increase not only boosted the purchasing power of recipients for nutritious foods but also helped stimulate the economy. [...] For example, most eligible four-person households have been receiving since April 2009 an $80 increase in their monthly SNAP allotment to spend on groceries.
Funding for education, jobs, and Medicaid--legislation enacted in August 2010 terminates the ARRA-increase in SNAP monthly benefits as of March 31, 2014. Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010--legislation reauthorizing USDA's child nutrition programs moves the end date for ARRA increases in SNAP benefits forward to October 31, 2013. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that monthly SNAP benefits will drop an average of $10-15 per person (or, about 10 percent) due to this legislation.
The original rationale for increasing SNAP benefits as part of ARRA was that SNAP benefits are spent quickly and have a multiplicative effect on total economic activity.
With the end of the recession in June 2009, the purpose of the ARRA increase to SNAP benefits no longer exists. Additionally, the 2014 farm bill modified some of the deductions that could be used to increase an individuals SNAP benefit. Previously, 16 states and Washington D.C. gave nominal ($1 or less) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) benefits, but allowed those same SNAP participants to deduct the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) which represents a typical heating bill in the state regardless of whether those SNAP recipients actually pay any utility costs. This policy often known as "heat and eat," has been somewhat curbed by requiring the states to give more than $20 before allowing the SUA deduction. Eight states have already promised to increase their LIHEAP benefits to comply with the new farm bill SNAP requirements.
To simplify verification requirements for the shelter deduction and qualify more households for the SUA, 16 states and Washington, DC began providing a very small LIHEAP benefit to SNAP households that don’t otherwise receive a LIHEAP benefit, including many households that do not incur heating or cooling costs. This enabled a considerable number of households that don’t incur heating or cooling costs to gain credit for utility costs they don’t actually pay and consequently to receive larger SNAP benefits. [...]
CBO estimated that the House-passed version of this change would cut SNAP benefits for about 850,000 households each year by approximately $90 a month.