Thousands of working poor Ohioans qualify for an extension of federal food aid, but shall Gov. John “The Tenderheart” Kasich extend it to them, concerned as he is about his postmortem meet-and-greet with St. Peter?
In the words of Bishop Bullwinkle, Hell No, to the no, no no. Aw, Hell No, to the no, no, no.
From a new report by Policy Matters Ohio:
“Federal rules allow states to waive time limits in areas where working-poor adults cannot find enough work hours (without a waiver, recipients are restricted to food aid for three out of 36 months unless they work at least 20 hours per week). A statewide waiver isn’t allowed in 2016, but many cities and counties remain eligible.
Ohio has requested a waiver of time limits for 18 rural counties in 2016.
Three counties that qualify for a waiver under the federal eligibility standards used by the state to determine this year’s request – Trumbull, Muskingum and Vinton Counties – are not part of the request. Although 10 cities qualify, no request is made for any cities. Moreover, the state has the ability under federal rules to broaden the waiver to even more counties – up to 34 – in addition to the 10 cities.”
The report explains further that Ohio has a high rate of food insecurity, meaning that a high number of citizens often deal with uncertain access to meals. The state has qualified for this federal waiver of time limits since the recession of 2008, but The Tenderheart Administration has rejected it for most of the state the past two years, accepting it in 2015 for only 17 rural counties, and in 2014 for 16 rural counties.
As for urban areas? Long walks off short piers, decrees Tenderheart.
From the report:
“The exclusion of urban counties and cities from the state waiver disproportionally hurts minority populations. In Ohio, 70 percent of those participating in the food-stamp program live in metropolitan areas, where Hispanic, Asian, African-American and other minority groups tend to live.
Nationally, about half of food stamp recipients are white and half are minority, but about 80 percent live in urban areas and suburban areas.The exclusions in recent years prompted Columbus Legal Aid to file a civil rights complaint against the state, arguing the state’s rejection of the waiver in cities is unfair to minorities.
‘The state could have addressed the racial inequity in 2016,’ said Wendy Patton, Policy Matters Ohio senior project director, who authored the report. ‘The Kasich administration chose not to. The state should broaden its request to encompass all places and regions where jobs are scarce and people are hungry.'”
Policy Matters seems to have noticed Gov. Tenderheart’s trips to New Hampshire, where he slaps himself good and hearty on the back for not rejecting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, and extols his record of tenderheartedly helping “the people in the shadows.”
From the conclusion of the report:
“The same logic (for Medicaid expansion) could be applied to federal food aid. Foregoing the waiver for eligible counties and cities leaves people and households exposed to hunger. The policy also means that millions of federal dollars are not being spent in Ohio supermarkets, farmer’s markets and corner stores, dollars that could boost local economies.
Too many Ohioans experience hunger. Ohio has one of the highest rates of severe food insecurity in the nation, and it has increased in the past decade. The compassionate response to meeting basic needs of all Ohioans—particularly the most vulnerable—is to maximize federal dollars to help people and boost the Ohio economy.”
I know that we’re all shocked SHOCKED that perhaps John Kasich is playing a bit of the hypocrite as he goes around playing the “compassionate conservative.” You know what it takes to sell Kasich’s efforts to help the people in the shadows? It takes brass balls to sell Kasich’s efforts to help the people in the shadows.
The truth is, as much as Tenderheart has jawed about his desire to help the poor, John Kasich has overseen massive regressive tax shifts onto the backs of Ohio’s lowest income families. He’s refused millions of dollars in unemployment funds because expanding benefits “makes no sense.”
His “poverty plan” did nothing to put resources into the hands of poor people, and his budgets have seen funding for county job and family services operations slashed, employees lost, and benefits reduced. With regard to the role transportation plays in exacerbating poverty, Kasich has done nothing. His privatized department of development, JobsOhio, has delivered 34 months of below average job creation.
His cuts to local government and public schools have led to billions in local tax levies being passed out of necessity, the layoffs of hundreds of teachers, police officers and firefighters, and the undermining of public schools in favor of corrupt, crony-driven charters known as the “joke” of the nation.
He’s also openly supported and otherwise winked-at union-busting efforts that would lower the standard of living of all Ohio workers. For Ohio’s working poor, with friends like these…
David Charles DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt.