SNAP: Another huge cost shift?

Trump administration budget would dump $127 million in SNAP costs on Iowa in 2023

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SNAP plan imposes huge cost shift to Iowa, other states

  • For Iowa, the cost is an estimated $127 million per year as feds pull back
  • Plan comes as Senate mulls more cost shifts to states, on health care

IOWA CITY, Iowa (June 13, 2017) — A massive cost shift in the Trump budget on food assistance is unaffordable and would rip a hole in the safety net for children, seniors and other Iowans in poverty, a new analysis shows.

“Coming as the state deals with late-year revenue shortfalls for the fiscal year ending June 30, and new challenges for the already approved FY2018 budget, these ideas are not sustainable. There is no way the state of Iowa — or most states — could afford the additional costs,” said Mike Owen, executive director of the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City.

Iowa-snap-170613“These are dangerous games now being played with low-income families’ nutrition, health and financial stability. As President Trump prepares to visit our state next week, he should be aware of the severe impact that his proposals would have on many tens of thousands of Iowa families. Certainly state lawmakers will be aware of the impact, as they would have to make the budget choices that result: hunger vs. schools, for example.”

The president’s budget would reverse the national approach to fighting hunger by forcing states to bear a share of the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “Food Stamps.”

The plan would let states cut SNAP benefits, and would force a 10 percent copay by states on SNAP benefit costs beginning in 2020. That share would increase to 25 percent in 2023 and beyond. Nationally, the cut would be $116 billion over a decade, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

For Iowa, the estimated one-year cost shift of the plan, when fully phased in, would be $127 million. Over 10 years, the cut is estimated at $884 million for Iowa, and $116 billion nationwide.

The report is available here:

Leaders in Congress need to look closely at the demonstrated economic benefits of both SNAP and Medicaid, where huge cost-shifts also are being proposed in Congress, as well as the human impacts of severe cuts, Owen said.

“You need to plan in better economic times for the downturns, and assuring a secure safety net is critical in that planning,” Owen said. “Neither the Trump SNAP proposal nor the House-passed American Health Care Act (ACHA) does that. In both cases, we see forced cost-shares that many states cannot afford, or critical services they would choose to abandon in the face of other budget pressures, leaving states ill-equipped to serve not only the long-term poor but families hit hard in a recession.

“Recessions would be deeper and longer, affecting not only the direct beneficiaries of SNAP and Medicaid but the grocery stores and health-care providers, respectively, who serve them.”

SNAP provides an essential benefit to a parent trying to piece together a bare-bones household budget, but one that is far too low for anyone to attempt to use to feed a family. In Iowa, the benefit is about $1.21 per person per meal on average (April 2017 data[1]).

The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is a joint public policy analysis initiative of two nonpartisan, nonprofit Iowa-based organizations, the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City ( and the Child & Family Policy Center in Des Moines ( Reports are available at

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[1]Iowa Department of Human Services, Food Assistance Report (F-1 Report) for April 2017. 2017-04.pdf