Albany, NY – State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) today announced the passage of legislation in the New York State Senate that would result in more federal funding for food stamp programs in New York City. The bill (S. 452) passed the Senate with a unanimous 56-0 vote.

S. 452 amends the social services law to direct federal food stamp “bonus” funding to high-performing food stamp programs rather than allowing large portions of those funds to be held by state agencies. This technical fix could result in millions more in federal food stamp funding for local social services districts in New York City and throughout the state.

“This bill is a positive step toward increasing the efficiency and impact of food stamp assistance programs in New York State,” said Senator Krueger. “This measure will reward efficiency all over the state, and will particularly benefit the city. The next step forward is for the city government to heed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call to end its unnecessary, stigmatizing, and ultimately pointless policy of fingerprinting food stamp recipients.”

Federal food stamp “bonus awards” are given when food stamp programs meet benchmarks in certain areas, such as program efficiency, quality control, or enrollment growth. Currently, the state has the discretion to determine how bonus awards are allocated to local districts. Although the state has historically passed on a majority of bonus money to local districts to used at their own discretion, it recently changed its practices.

In order for a local district to receive any of the most recent bonus money awarded to the state, each local district is required to file a plan for the use of the funds with Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). The latest federal bonus equaled $9.8 million, of which $7 Million is identified for distribution to the localities that submit a “Plan of Use.”

Strong performance by local social services districts contributes to the state’s overall success in the food stamp program and the receipt of additional federal funding in the form of bonuses. Under Sen. Krueger’s legislation, the distribution formula used to distribute the bulk of the bonus funds to local social services districts would be based on each local district’s contribution towards acquiring the bonus. These funds could be spent by the local district for any food and nutrition purpose consistent with the district’s legal authority. This will create efficiency incentives within the system and fairly apportion bonus funds to the programs whose work brought the funds into the state.

This legislation is pending in the New York State Assembly as A9720, and is sponsored by Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Queens). Assemblywoman Titus chairs the Assembly Social Services Committee.