David Bowen
Press Release

Reps. Bowen & Brostoff Introduce Heat & Eat Bill

New Legislation Would Reverse Food Stamp Cuts from 2014 Farm Bill

By - Jun 4th, 2015 12:37 pm

MILWAUKEE – At a joint press event with the Hunger Task Force of Wisconsin, Reps. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) and Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee) announced today that they were introducing a bill to restore Wisconsin’s Heat & Eat program and reverse the FoodShare cuts imposed on Wisconsin families by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The families that rely on FoodShare to get by are the ones being left behind by this economy,” said Rep. Bowen. “A family living in poverty can’t afford a $100 cut in their grocery budget. Restoring the Heat & Eat program would help get struggling families back on their feet.”

Heat & Eat is a state program that allows households receiving energy assistance through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to qualify for additional FoodShare benefits. Wisconsin previously provided all families that did not otherwise qualify for LIHEAP a benefit of $1, so that they could qualify for higher FoodShare benefits, but Congress increased the minimum qualifying LIHEAP benefit to $20, cutting FoodShare benefits for more than 250,000 families across Wisconsin. The bill offered by Reps. Bowen and Brostoff would increase the LIHEAP benefit to $21, restoring these families’ FoodShare benefits to their previous levels. Because the bill only reallocates federal money the state already receives, it would not require any additional state spending. Reallocating $5.4 million in LIHEAP money would bring an additional $276 million in FoodShare benefits from the federal government.

“Making this change is a no-brainer,” said Rep. Brostoff. “Without spending a single extra dollar in state funds, we could bring in $276.3 million more in food stamp benefits and help more than 255,000 Wisconsin households make ends meet.”

Since the Farm Bill passed, 12 of the 15 states that participate in the Heat & Eat program – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia– have taken steps to raise home energy assistance benefits to protect their citizens from the food stamp cuts. Support for the change has been bipartisan across the country, with both Republican and Democratic governors and legislatures making the necessary changes to increase food stamp benefits.

“The Heat & Eat cuts unfairly target seniors and people with disabilities living in subsidized housing,” Sherrie Tussler, Executive Director of Hunger Task Force said. “These vulnerable populations need community support to restore their FoodShare benefits. Hunger Task Force calls on the state legislature to help the frail and elderly.”

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11 thoughts on “Reps. Bowen & Brostoff Introduce Heat & Eat Bill”

  1. Jeremy says:

    You two are the worst. They don’t qualify for the subsidy! Why are you trying to reintroduce a loophole that was fixed by the feds? What is wrong with the two of you? Here’s a novel idea, get off FoodShare.

  2. PMD says:

    Seriously Jeremy. People should just stop being poor, and others should just stop trying to help poor people. Good grief what’s next? Trying to help poor people afford college?

  3. AG says:

    Jeremy, you don’t understand. Once people take advantage of a loop hole long enough it is eventually considered a necessary entitlement. You take it away, and you’re just trying to take advantage of the poor.

  4. PMD says:

    Yeah I am so sick of rich people and financial institutions taking advantage of tax loopholes. We try to take it away and they start crying about attacks on the rich and all that.

  5. AG says:

    That actually is a good point. Pretty much any time you provide benefits, even if they weren’t intended to be used the way they were, once people get used to them it is very hard to rescind them.

  6. PMD says:

    And it’s why there’s little will from political parties when it comes to rescinding the benefits of the people who vote for them.

  7. Dave says:

    From what I understand, many food stamp recipients in Wisconsin have or will see their assistance slashed by something like 80% as soon as this month. Someone who before had $100 to spend on groceries will now have $20. That’s flat out f***ing absurd. If the two of you believe simply restoring the benefit that these low income (or older fixed income) human beings were recieving is a “hand out” or “keeping them poor” you can go f*** yourselves.

  8. Dave says:

    “The Hunger Task Force estimated that by pumping up LIHEAP money spent by taxpayers by $5.4 million to FoodShare recipients, the state would be able to preserve $276 million in benefits.”

    I think in the world of teapublican a**holes, that is referred to as “Cheaper to Help Them”.

  9. AG says:

    Well now that’s some colorful language on a Friday afternoon.

    The program was supposed to take into account that the heating bill was part of (and increased) a persons rent payments. By getting money from the LIHEAP program in additiona to deducting the higher rent that included heat/utilities you are thus increasing the benefits more than the program was designed to do.

    You can argue that we don’t provide enough money to those in need… but the idea that some people should be given more than other people (aka those who pay rent and utilities separately) because they can game the system doesn’t hold as strong a sway on my opinion. If you think they should all get an additional $50, $100, whatever… fine, tell me that. But don’t tell me that because some people’s heating is included on their rent instead of getting a separate bill means they should get more than others.

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