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NC Budget and Tax Center

For some of North Carolina’s poorest adults living on the edge, the New Year is not bringing cheers or hopeful expectations. For these folks, the year kicked off with the return of a policy that could push them further into material and economic hardship regardless of their efforts to find work.

More than 100,000 of the state’s poorest adults face losing federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits this year due to the return of the harsh three-month time limit for childless, non-disabled adults aged 18-49. These adults will lose their food aid after three months if they can’t find a job, job-training program, or volunteer opportunity for 20 hours per week regardless of labor market and economic conditions in their community.

Last summer, state lawmakers elected to re-implement the time limit statewide even though parts of North Carolina qualify for a waiver this year due to sustained high levels of unemployment. The time limit would have returned this month for 23 of the state’s 100 counties regardless of state action because of an improving economy in those counties. The remaining 77 counties qualified for a year-long waiver but the governor and legislature permanently banned state waivers after July 2016. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

The General Assembly used a few of the last hours of the 2015 session to cut back how long unemployed North Carolinians in economically distressed counties can receive food assistance. Even though this weeks’ labor market data show that 9 out of 10 counties have more out of work people than job openings, the new rule would cut unemployed people off regardless of how hard it is to find work. The change could take food off more than 100,000 tables across North Carolina, and will pull money out of already struggling local economies, a doubly bad deal.

The one-sentence provision in the ratified bill (see section 16.a) permanently prevents the state from seeking to extend food assistance for people who can’t find work in their local economies, except in times of emergency. The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allows states to temporarily waive a three-month time limit for unemployed childless adults who live in areas where few jobs are available.77 waiver counties - Updated for Blog Post

Recognizing that cutting off food aid to areas where there aren’t enough jobs hurts entire local economies, North Carolina sought this waiver for 77 of our 100 counties earlier this year. If the Governor signs this measure and SB119 into law, the ban on the waiver would go into effect in July 2016. Without the modest support of SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), between 85,000 and 105,000 North Carolinians would be subject to the three month-time limit and potentially will not be able to purchase food at their local grocery stores, depressing consumer demand further and driving use of food banks already stretched to capacity. Read More

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What a difference a year makes. Three-hundred and sixty days ago, the Charlotte Observer endorsed former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory for Governor. Today, calling it a “political stunt,” the paper rightfully blasted McCrory’s latest disingenuous move related to the federal shutdown and its impact on poor people:

“The photo op came off just so, and the headlines around the state were precisely what Gov. Pat McCrory intended: “McCrory announces aid for food banks struggling with shutdown.”

That was only part of the story, though, and not the largest part. In fact, food banks across North Carolina – and the hungry people they serve – have been struggling more because of the state’s actions and inaction than because of the partial government shutdown.

McCrory held a press conference Monday at Charlotte’s Second Harvest Food Bank. He announced that he was speeding up $750,000 that the food banks had coming to them, and he said the state Department of Justice would provide an additional $2 million on top of the $3 million the food banks were already supposed to receive.

‘Federal services are not political chess pieces,’ McCrory said in a prepared statement. ‘Real people are being impacted in very real ways. The political brinkmanship must end.’

He said this at the very moment he was moving political chess pieces and having a real impact on real people with his political brinkmanship….”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.