Watson Coleman: Christie’s Reverse Robin Hood Act Leads to Statewide Hunger, May Lose NJ Federal Funding

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman issued the following statement Thursday in response to news that New Jersey may lose federal support for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program due to continued failure to review applications expeditiously under the Christie administration:

“The dismal combination of the recent economic downturn and the Christie administration’s dreadful record on job creation has resulted in record numbers of families in dire need. For them, turning to SNAP is not a first resort; it is one of the last stops on a road riddled with despair and frustration. When they look to the government for assistance, they’re looking with a sense of urgency. Gov. Christie looks right back at them with a sense of mercilessness,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).

“For anyone with the wisdom and compassion that together define leadership, the notion that New Jersey will lose millions in federal funding would make more immediate the need to address the staggering delay in processing applications for assistance. A modicum of fiscal responsibility within the administration would make it clear that turning away support for a $278 million program will worsen conditions for low-income families and for our state as a whole. Gov. Christie seems not to understand that hiring additional personnel to accelerate processing SNAP applications is an investment in our state’s well-being, not a mere expense. But what can we really expect from a governor beholden to a failed philosophy of trickle-down economics who considers tax credits for businesses that don’t create jobs and tax cuts for millionaires his top priorities?

“Most food stamp recipients are among our most vulnerable residents – children, people with disabilities and senior citizens. They want nothing more than the ability to access the most basic of all human needs – sustenance. They want nothing more than simply to survive. It is an utter disgrace that their governor has failed to answer their call in this moment of desperation.”

Applicants who qualify for assistance must receive benefits no later than 30 days after their local Social Services office obtains an application, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. Due to understaffing at several Social Services locations, one in four New Jersey applications fails to be reviewed within this time frame. New Jersey ranks 52nd among 53 U.S agencies in its processing time for SNAP applications, according to the USDA.