Gov. Wolf ends asset test for food stamps

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania will no longer require food stamp recipients to pass an asset test come Monday.

The Wolf administration says it changed course because its watching your money.

Before getting federally-funded benefit cards, Pennsylvania wanted recipients to provide additional proof that they were poor enough to deserve them. Eleven states have asset tests and the intention is to protect limited resources.

“We want to preserve benefits for those who truly need it, and the more we spread those out there’s less for those who truly need it,” Republican Senator Scott Hutchinson said.

But the Wolf administration eliminated the asset test, calling it bad policy and bad math. It cost 3.5 million in state dollars to implement and it only saved 1.5 million federal dollars in booted food stamp recipients.

“Ultimately, it is the decision of the governor and I agree with him that it’s not an efficient practice,” acting Human Services secretary Ted Dallas said.

Dallas said that his department’s core competency is not financial auditing, so the asset test caught about 4,000 ineligible recipients but mistakenly flagged and hassled more than a 100,000 otherwise eligible elderly and disabled.

“There were folks who were eligible for it but couldn’t produce the paperwork, so it delayed or in some cases kept them from getting food stamps when they were entitled to that benefit,” he said.

State Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) applauds the governor.

“Having this asset test was a barrier that was preventing them and kind of just insinuating that we don’t really trust you,” Kim said.

But others believe in the old Ronald Reagan mantra: trust but verify when handing out government provided goodies.

“It’s simply unfair to let folks access taxpayer money if they have resources themselves that take care of basic necessities,” Matt Brouillette of the conservative Commonwealth Foundation said.

The asset test is officially dead for food stamps come Monday. The Department of Human Services tells us there are 1.8 million Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps and their average bank account is $335.

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