‘Edujobs’ update – food stamp increase on the chopping block?

The U.S. Senate breathed new life last week into “Edujobs,” passing legislation that would give the states $10 billion to help prevent teacher layoffs along with another $16 billion to help support Medicaid programs. The House is being called back from recess this week to take up the measure.

But to pay for the education funding without increasing the federal deficit, the Senate had to make spending cuts elsewhere. And one of the cuts it approved – to future spending for the federal food stamp program – is running into opposition.

Indiana would get $207 million from the Senate bill, according to an update from the Education Commission for the States.

The House passed a different version of the teacher jobs bill last month, despite controversy over some of its proposed budget offsets – the House bill would have cut funding for Obama Administration school-reform programs, including the Race to the Top competition among the states.

The food-stamp spending cut would be accomplished by moving up the expiration date for an increase in benefits that was adopted last year with the economic recovery bill. Whether the benefit increase will in fact expire remains to be seen. The Wall Street Journal editorialized that Senate Democrats “merely gamed the budget math” and the funding will be restored “when the next ‘emergency’ rolls around.”

But organizations that advocate for families and children are taking the food-stamp cuts seriously, with a coalition of hundreds of progressive and anti-poverty groups from around the country signing a letter objecting to the tactic. The Education Trust, one of the groups, said the cuts would push “the 40 million Americans on food stamps into soup-kitchen lines long before the end of every month.”

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