When it Comes to Lack of Federal Nutrition Dollars, Schwarzenegger Only has Himself to Blame

Recent statements by Governor Schwarzenegger pointing the finger at California's Congressional delegation for our state's budgetary problems are irresponsible and a continuation of his 'pass the buck' mentality. When it comes to the lack of federal nutrition funding at work in California, the Governor has no one to blame but himself.

According to the USDA, California ranks at the bottom of all 50 states in participation rates in the SNAP (federal food stamp) program. Current figures show that only 50% of all households eligible to received benefits in California are enrolled in the federal food stamp program. Food stamps continue to be one of the fastest and most reliable ways to stimulate economic activity. In fact, according to the USDA every dollar of federal food stamp expenditures generates $1.84 in local economic activity.

With full enrollment, California would receive an additional $3.7 billion in federal benefits each year. Those benefits would generate an additional $6.9 billion in statewide economic activity. Yet instead of encouraging greater participation in the SNAP program, the Governor has refused to put greater state emphasis or resources behind promoting this sound policy.

I wrote the Governor in November of 2007 to express my concerns to him over California's low food stamp participation rates. Unfortunately, his administration has continued to act far too slowly in working to remove many of the draconian measures that prevent Californians from enrolling in these beneficial programs, which put food on the table for millions of needy Americans while also boosting economic activity.

Instead of trying to redirect the blame to California's federal representatives, I suggest Governor Schwarzenegger use his remaining time in office to promote policies at the state level that encourage stronger participation in federal nutrition programs. Working to ensure California takes full advantage of all federal funds available is a necessary step in fixing the state's budget crisis.