Saturday, January 16, 2016

Urge the New Mexico State Legislature to Increase the SNAP Supplement to $30

Photo: Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM
The short (30-day) session of the New Mexico State Legislature is generally about budget and money matters. And there is an important budget issue that could help alleviate hunger in New Mexico: an opportunity to increase the SNAP supplement that seniors and many people with disabilities receive to $30. 

Background: This state program, which uses an appropriation from the General Fund, was created in 2007 to supplement the minimum amount from SNAP ($16 per month) that many seniors and people with disabilities receive to $25. In March 2009, funding was appropriated to increase the $16 minimum to $30 per month. Due to budget constraints, the minimum amount was decreased to $25 on January 1, 2011.

Senate and House Committees are Important
There are proposals in the 2016 session to increase the amount back to $30. To bring the State SNAP supplement back up to $30, an appropriation of $400,000 is required. The Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations and Finance Committee play a key role in this decision. If your representative or senator is on one of the two committees, please take a moment to send him or her an e-mail urging them to appropriate $400,000 to SNAP state supplement program so that the minimum amount received could be $30. (There is a willingness to increase the supplement. Even Gov. Susana Martinez's budget proposal includes funding to raise the supplement to $28).

We can contact our own legislators about this issue, but the members are those two committees are key in this effort.  "It is especially important if folks can contact their own legislators, particularly if they are members of either of these committees," said Ruth Hoffman, director of the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico, which provided information for this post. Follow this link to find out who represents you in the State House and Senate.

Senate Finance Committee (links have contct info): Sens. John Arthur Smith (chair), Carlos Cisneros (vice chair), Sue Wilson Beffort (Ranking Minority Member), William F. Burt, Pete Campos, Carroll H. Leavell, Howie C. Morales, George K. Muñoz, Steven P. Neville,  and Nancy Rodriguez.

House Appropriations and Finance Committee: Reps. Larry A. Larrañaga (chair), Paul C. Bandy (vice chair),  Jimmie C. Hall (deputy chair), Sharon Clahchischilliage, Doreen Y. Gallegos, Stephanie Garcia Richard, Conrad James, Patricia A. Lundstrom, Sarah Maestas Barnes, Dennis J. Roch, Nick L. Salazar, Tomás E. Salazar, Jeff Steinborn, Christine Trujillo, Luciano "Lucky" Varela, Monica Youngblood, and John L. Zimmerman

The two committees have already been meeting ahead of the full session, which begins on Tuesday, January 19.

Here are some talking points:
  • Increase the State SNAP Supplement to $30
  • Because of the way income is counted under the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), many seniors and people with disabilities are eligible to receive only $16 per month in federal SNAP assistance.
  • Over 11,000 of New Mexico's seniors and people living with disabilities now receive this much-needed benefit.
  • Funding to increase the minimum amount received to $28 was included in the Governor’s 2017 budget recommendation.
It may not seem like much but an additional $5 can buy:
  • 2 loaves of whole wheat bread
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • About 3 lbs of chicken
  • About 4 lbs of apples
  • At least a gallon of milk

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