TOPEKA, Kan. - Lt. Governor Mark Parkinson joined SRS Secretary Don Jordan and Department of Labor Secretary Jim Garner Monday morning in discussing the American Recovery Act and how it will affect Kansans who are out of work or struggling to put food on the table.
"Right now, our country is experiencing an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression. Every state, every community and every American is being impacted by this recession. But there is hope - there are opportunities on the horizon and there are better days ahead," Parkinson said. "We must bridge the gap between our troubled times and a better tomorrow by helping families-in-need and out-of-work Kansans."
"There is a strong correlation between the Kansas unemployment rate and the food stamp caseload. While it is still too early to know exactly how big an impact the current economic situation will have on food assistance participation rates, we do expect to see an increase,” Secretary Jordan said. “These additional resources will help Kansas families put food on the table.”
“As of March 4th, unemployed Kansans began receiving an additional $25 in their weekly benefit payments. While $25 a week may not sound like a lot of money, it means a tank of gas or an extra bag of groceries each week for a family impacted by a layoff. And it’s significant for our state’s economy, as well. Had the additional $25 a week been available in the month of February, it would have meant an additional $5.9 million circulating in our state economy,” Secretary Garner said. “I’m also extremely proud of our IT staff and everyone at the Department who helped to implement this quickly. They know this extra money is critical to unemployed Kansans, and they worked around the clock to make it happen.”
Statewide in January 2009 there were a little over 94,000 Kansas households receiving food assistance benefits, compared to just over 85,000 at the same time last year. This is a 10.4% increase. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act provides additional resources to states for the food assistance program, including:
- An increase in Food Assistance Allotments; benefits will be increased by 13.6% effective 4/1/09 and continuing through the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, 2010.
- The increased benefit amounts mean an additional $12.6 million in SFY09 and $53.9 million in SFY10 for Kansas.
- Suspending the Able Bodied Adults without Dependent Children (ABAWD) provision which previously limited food assistance to 3 out of 36 months. This provision has been suspended for all states effective 4/1/09 through 10/1/11.
Eligibility and benefit amounts are based on household size and monthly income. Income eligibility guidelines are based on the federal poverty level. To qualify, the household’s maximum gross monthly income must be equal to or less than 130% of the federal poverty level. This means, for a family of four, the maximum gross monthly income limit is $2,297.
Secretary Jordan said only about 65% of the households in Kansas that are eligible for food assistance are receiving benefits. To apply, Kansans can contact their local SRS office or call toll free 1-888-369-4777.
Anyone who was eligible for unemployment benefits as of the week of Feb. 24 or after will continue to receive the extra funds each week they remain eligible for benefits through 2009. There is no additional paperwork or application process required to receive the additional money – anyone who is eligible to receive unemployment benefits will automatically receive the extra $25. Under the Recovery Act, the extra $25 benefit will be available until the end of 2009.
President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion bill in February. It will be allocated into eight categories:
$288 billion for Tax Relief
$144 billion for State and Local Fiscal Relief
$111 billion for Infrastructure and Science
$81 billion for Protecting the Vulnerable
$59 billion for Health Care
$53 billion for Education and Training
$43 billion for Energy
$8 billion for Other
To learn more about how Kansans can take access resources of the American Recovery Act, or to see how the Act is impacting Kansas, please visit Governor Sebelius’ webpage at www.governor.ks.gov/recovery/.
Read the American Recovery Act bill here.