August 28, 2014
EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01am, Friday, August 29, 2014

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-244-9505 

ALBUQUERQUE—Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, will submit the following statement to Secretary Squier regarding the proposed work requirement change for recipients of SNAP benefits at the hearing on Friday, August 29:

Dear Secretary Squier:

I am writing to urge you to stop plans to reinstate work requirements for recipients of SNAP benefits. There are several reasons I believe this plan would be detrimental to New Mexico:

  • New Mexico has the highest rate of child hunger in the nation.
  • New Mexico has the second highest rate of overall hunger in the nation.
  • New Mexico has the worst job growth in the western region and nearly the worst in the nation.
  • The Albuquerque metro area—home to nearly half of the state’s population—is in a double-dip recession.
  • Every dollar of federal SNAP funding creates as much as $1.80 in economic activity; we’d be losing $84 million in economic activity by turning away the estimated $47 million in SNAP money.
  • HSD already has trouble processing SNAP applications in a timely manner; new requirements will only add to the administrative burden of an already-poorly functioning department.

Your desire to encourage work is admirable. But reinstating the work requirements at this point in our economic recovery would stop the program from doing what it was created to do. SNAP works as an “automatic stabilizer” when the economy goes sour. When unemployment is high, people have less money to spend, which leads to lower consumer demand. That, in turn, leads to higher unemployment as businesses cut back on their sales staff to lower expenses. This sort of downward spiral impedes economic recovery and everyone loses. SNAP helps to keep this economic spiral in check, allowing consumer demand for groceries to stay up even as employment goes down.

The economy is healthy when money is circulating by people purchasing goods and services. This demand for goods and services creates jobs, and as the wages from these jobs are spent on more goods and services money continues to circulate through the economy.

Money that is collected in the form of taxes is also circulated right back into the economy, whether directly through paychecks for teachers and first responders, or indirectly to private businesses through contracts for services and the purchase of goods. This is true whether the money is coming straight from the state or federal budgets or if it’s going through a program such as SNAP or Medicaid. SNAP money helps the local economy because it is spent right here in New Mexico at neighborhood grocery stores. It has the added benefit of helping out people when they need a hand.

When money is collected by the government but not spent, it helps no one. While some may think they are saving taxpayer money by not spending it, the truth is, that money is doing the taxpayers no good if it is not circulating in the economy and helping to keep it healthy.

Please consider the impact on the children of those who have had to resort to government benefit programs. The vast majority of these people want to work and would work if they could find a job. Instead of denying them and their children benefits because the job market—which they cannot control—is not creating jobs, the state should be increasing its investments in our most valuable resource—our human capital.