Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program approved in the 2014 Farm Bill won't affect New York residents if Gov. Andrew Cuomo has his way.
Cuomo announced this week plans to use $6 million from the state's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, procured through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, to maintain SNAP benefits for affected households.
The funding will be used to increase the Home Energy Assistance Program benefit of SNAP recipients for whom heat is included in the rent, Cuomo's office said. By receiving the higher HEAP benefit, these households will remain eligible for the highest SNAP allowance for their energy costs, which enables them to continue receiving SNAP benefits at the level for which they are currently eligible.
The farm bill was slated to cut SNAP benefits an average of $127 per month for affected households in New York, including those that live in government subsidized housing or in certain congregate care settings.
Gov. Cuomo's office estimates that the extra funds will save benefits for nearly 300,000 households in New York.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who was rumored to be floating a proposal to delay the farm bill earlier this month, has been vocal in her opposition of the SNAP cuts. Gillibrand said the change by Gov. Cuomo was a "heroic step."
"I hope other Governors in heat and eat states will follow his strong leadership," she continued.
Her comments aren't in vain – National Journal's Billy House reports that Govs. Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts have similar plans under consideration, as does Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.
Malloy on Monday announced his plan, which also dedicates additional energy assistance funds to help current SNAP recipients meet the new, higher standard utility allowance, his office explained.