Posted: 7:15 am Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Gov. Deal orders changes to food stamp program as feds threaten to cut funding 

By Greg Bluestein

Gov. Nathan Deal is ordering changes aimed at clearing the backlog jamming the state’s food stamp program as federal officials threaten to cut up to $76 million in administrative funding if the problems aren’t fixed.

Deal’s office said Department of Human Services Commissioner Keith Horton was instructed to seek a federal waiver on Thursday that would allow the state to immediately approve food stamp applications from some of the neediest Georgians. Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said although the waiver would allow automatic approval, the state would later verify each applicant’s eligibility and claw back the benefits if they’re found to be ineligible.

The move is aimed at clearing a backlog of roughly 30,000 cases that were overdue for action. As the AJC’s Craig Schneider reported this week, applicants calling for help have been placed on hold for hours or their calls simply went unanswered. Many lost their benefits because they must reapply every six months but couldn’t get through.

The federal government, which pays for food stamps but splits the management costs with the state, has warned that it would slash some or all of their $76 million as early as May 1 unless the state makes significant changes.

Jo Ann de la Moriniere, 73, is one of the food stamp recipients who have had problems with the state's flawed call-in center.

Jo Ann de la Moriniere, 73, is one of the food stamp recipients who have had problems with the state’s flawed call-in center.

The waiver would only apply to “expedited” cases, which typically involve food stamp applicants who earn no income. The state usually has seven days to determine their eligibility for food stamp benefits, but a backlog has extended that timeline.

It’s seen as a short-term fix as the state considers a more permanent solution to curb fraud and waste in the food stamp program. Schneider reported that the state wasted about $138 million in 2013 in overpayments to food stamp recipients, and continued problems could trigger federal fines.

Robinson said state officials have drafted a plan that’s seen as a longer-term fix – though he didn’t immediately elaborate on what that meant – and that the department is now seeking requests for proposals to implement it. But Deal, who faces an election in November, said in an interview that it won’t be easy.

“We have already taken a huge amount of corrective actions. We have employees working 24 hours a day, around the clock, dealing with the backlog of applications,” said Deal. “But it also requires that we do a better job of dealing with fraudulent requests. And that’s a difficult thing to get a handle on.”

Democrats, meanwhile, were not impressed. Michael Smith, a spokesman for the state party, said Deal’s response fits a pattern.

“Our governor has once again brought us to the cliff and now wants to save us from the fall,” he said.

331 comments
JeanieDobson
JeanieDobson

If food stamps was cut and then food would'nt cost so much for people that pay with cash. And ceil phones was cut then the ceil phones would'nt cost so much for the ones that pay with cash. I have nathing again'st thous that are handicap or old folks that can't work. and yes alot kids go hungry cause parents spend on beer and lottery tickets. And mostly time parents can't get jobs but are trying I'm alright with them getting foodstamps cause they did work and paid in. But some lived off the systems so long that they don't work just loff around and stay high all the time. and don't want to change. then those kids growup to not work and live off the system. its system been abused. not being use in the right way. And children having children right after nather just so they get housing and foodstamps and they haven't never sweat in a day of there lifes. System needs cut back but also need to cut out to those been living that life and has'nt worked.

AdonisAsante
AdonisAsante

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lvg
lvg

Heck who cares about food stamps and people wanting to eat- us redneck hillbillies got our guns and no one is going to stop us from carrying anywhere we want. Someone gets p-ed off at one of us and we have to stand our ground, we are armed and ready!!!!.Thanks to  let's make a Deal and  our state guvment folks. Them boys sure knows their priortees.

mdivine
mdivine

td1234


I am not a State employee, so no I do not work for DFACS-never have worked for that agency. Which I guess means that I cannot be fired from a job that I have never held.  So go figure. LOL 

dreluv
dreluv

You republican keep thinking it going to be a low turn out don't be fool..The democrat are ready for this state to be blue..Nathan Deal keeping Georgia to rank the worst state to live..Nathan Deal don't know how to manage the budget.

likeitis
likeitis

How can I afford gas for my Cadillac if they cut off my food stamps ?

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

Could the real reason Georgia didn't expand Medicaid be that  the state's human resources machinery has been decimated by budget cuts over the past decade and a lacks the ability to implement any program that requires accountability?


KelvinFrazier
KelvinFrazier

Well the state of Georgia is turning blue. That much is certain, but I don't think it will be blue enough to elect a democrat for Governor this time around.

Manman
Manman

The only people who should be ashamed are those who think just because a few people are gaming the system the vast, vast majority of legitimate users should starve. Real Christian of you all.

honested
honested

Stop and think for a moment.


If all the overweight white people prone to make bad choices suddenly disappeared, the wrong wing stranglehold on Georgia politics would abruptly end!

armygirl1974
armygirl1974

Being a student on a severe budget I am often envious of what these people can afford, one guy bought 7 lottery tickets, a pack of cigs and then produced his Ga Peach card to buy snacks....damn  guess my reward will be funding him after graduation.

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

"@The_Centrist only in the minds of Fox news watchers! ALL KNOW THEY ARE not THE bRIGHTEST OF aMERICANS."

Stated by a true liberal - one who does not understand the concept of upper/lower-case spelling.  Also, one who thinks that North Fulton is barely surviving.

Nofreecheese
Nofreecheese

The Jabba the Hut looking food stamp recipient could only benefit from not eating.  "Get in my belly!  Get in my belly!"

td1234
td1234

Well if any of my Democrat friends want to see change in the governor's office then they had better join the teachers and state employees on May 20th and vote for Dr John Barge and retire Deal. 


If you do not crossover then do not complain when Deal is in office for 4 more years. 

PatrickRoy
PatrickRoy

@JeanieDobson Are you really that obtuse?  Stores get cash from foodstamps just like they get cash from your debit card.  By the way, this is practically unreadable.  I guess its hard to type when your knuckles are usually dragging on the ground behind you.


JeanieDobson
JeanieDobson

@lvg Food stamps ok if they really need them and is handicap. But there's some don't know how to work. and most of them walk around with there pants down to there needs. thanks us white folks going hire them to work. and getting worse alot of them go to glennvile ga get lottery tickets with the welfare and foodstamps. with are tax dollars.

PatrickRoy
PatrickRoy

@dreluv I'm a registered republican that will vote for any Dem that opposes him.  He's a disgrace.

sim_namore
sim_namore

@likeitis  Ask your Republican representative in the state house.  He's getting his.  And yours.

mdivine
mdivine

@hamiltonAZ  


Most of the states that have chosen to not participate in the expansion claim that the cost cannot be justified by offsets and federally funded support-so this is what they claim.  But there are concrete numbers to refute these types of claims and to actually support the long-term financial benefits to the states.

honested
honested

@hamiltonAZ  

Cut HR, cut education, blame the 'customers' when the cuts don't work.

Now if the Average Georgian was smart enough to realize any idiotic tax cap will COST them unless they are making over 750k a year, we might be able to right the ship.

td1234
td1234

@hamiltonAZ  The cost to run the program is very much the reason for not expanding Medicaid. There will be a Constitutional Amendment on the budget to cap income taxes in Nov. if we expand Medicaid then we would need to cut programs like Education to cover the cost. 

td1234
td1234

@KelvinFrazier  Maybe in 10 to 20 years the state will be blue again. Right now if Democrats want to affect the election their only choice is to vote in the Republican primary. 

td1234
td1234

@Manman  Jesus also taught extensively on personal responsibility. I am sure he would not approve of all the out of wedlock births of people that can not take care of the children they produce. 

PatrickRoy
PatrickRoy

@armygirl1974 Then go ahead and arrest the store clerk.  Those things are ineligible for foodstamps.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@MiltonMan- I had to search to see who posted that.  Bernie is one of about a dozen partisan posters who I skip over when I see the name - so I "missed" that missive directed at me.

mugglemikki
mugglemikki

@Nofreecheese I can't believe how mean-spirited these comments are..including yours!

I pray you never need assistance.  Nobody knows what's going to happen to them...so beware.


The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@td1234 - Not going to happen.  Even the latest polls say Deal has no problem next month.  Those same polls have Jason Carter neck and neck with Deal in November - but no professional pundits put any stock in them at this early point.

honested
honested

@td1234 @Manman 

What was required for a 'wedding' back in jeebus's day?

Of course I do remember a passage in the new testament that went something like "suffer the little children, kick them to the curb". Is that how it's taught at your church?

Pam1J
Pam1J

@mugglemikki @Nofreecheese But he'll be in church on Sunday up front with all the rest of these so called Christian conservatives who look down on the poor, so unlike Jesus would do.

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

Heck the polls which The AJC kept using had Barnes easily cruising to re-election (lost to Perdue by 100,000+ votes) and then Barnes beating Deal (Deal won by 200,000+ votes).  The AJC is simply trying to get its liberal fanbase fired up in believing they have a chance.  Sad, really sad that most of them keep believing this garbage.

td1234
td1234

@The_Centrist @td1234  I agree that Deal will not be defeated in the General election. 


The only place he has a chance to be defeated is in the primary due to very low voter turnout and by running a stealth campaign. 


Deal won the primary 4 years ago by receiving 291,038 votes. That is less than 10% of the registered voters in the state. Teachers, State employees and Retirees affected by the insurance changes make up 650,000 residents. IF they will unite and turnout in the primary they can retire Deal. IF they do not then Deal will seek and get revenge on them for the next four years after the election and they will deserve what is coming.  

mdivine
mdivine

@td1234


There is a plan in place where the Federal gov't pays for a large percentage of the state offset and then it continues to diminish over a period of time and then phases out slowly between 2017 and 2020. 


honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

Which is why I will vote for broun and one of the second tier gubernatorial candidates in the primary.

td1234
td1234

@honested @td1234  We had this same argument 4 years ago and Deal won by 10% over a well funded Democrat. 


Face it. The Democrat collectivist message just does not carry water in Georgia at this time. It may in 10 to 20 years from now but it is a long way away. Having HOPE is great but not being a realist is just plain dumb. 


I was a Republican all through the 80's and 90's in Georgia as the Democrats ran everything. I always voted in the Democrat primary to make sure my vote counted for something and then voted my conscience in the general election. If Democrats of today do not realize the same then they will not affect anything. 

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

tiny dog,

I accept that most of your friends must be as rabidly wrong wing and potentially delusional as you are, however, posit for a moment that the slimmest possible majority of Georgia Voters are not.

td1234
td1234

@honested Carter is a democrat and can not win the general election in November. To Deal's credit he has made it impossible for Carter to get the turnout needed due to his vote on the gun bill and the Constitutional Amendment. 


You add to it that any Democrat running will be tied to Obama and Obamacare in a state where Obama's approval ratings are in the 30's and you can see there is no chance. 


If Democrats want to affect the election then the only way is in the primary. If not then they should be happy with Deal for 4 more years. 

honested
honested

@td1234 @MiltonMan 

If they actually get fired up in the primary, they can nominate an easy target for Jason Carter to DEFEAT.

td1234
td1234

@MiltonMan  Teachers and flaggers were the reason Sonny beat Roy in a general election. 


Teachers by themselves do not have the necessary voting block to defeat Deal in a general election but if they actually got fired up enough to unite in the primary then Deal could be retired. 

Charles50
Charles50

@MiltonMan Firing up the base, please.   I'm sure this will shock you, but I doubt seriously that many Dems are taking their cue from the AJC regarding for whom they should vote.  

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@td1234 - A lot more parents at home in May than teachers.  Most of those teachers will be voting in the Democratic primary, anyway.  Early voting is expanding as a matter of timing and convenience - another reason for higher turnout as the Senate campaign TV ads start heightening voter interest.

td1234
td1234

@The_Centrist Yes, Primaries are in May and in the schools where all these teachers are at. 


If they do not vote for Barge then Deal will be re-elected. 


Carter has less than a 10% chance of winning a General election (Only if Deal is indicted).

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@td1234 - The open Senate seat and primary in May instead of summer vacation months will probably boost turnout.  As we have debated before, Teachers, State employees and Retirees are natural Democrats - few will bother to crossover to vote against Deal.  Health insurance costs and shrinking networks hit everyone, and Republicans are not going to be the ones blamed.

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

@td1234 @The_Centrist  As crazy as it sounds I am going to join TD in voting for Barge next month only because DEAL is soooo bad anybody would be an improvement. I would love to see Barge win, but I don't think he will. I will however be voting for Jason Carter in November.

Trackbacks

  1. […] the fed. threatens to cut funding, Gov. Deal allows DFCS to give food stamp applicants immediate approval instead of having them wait seven days. Those approved will be checked out afterwards, in order to […]

  2. […] he did not name Deal, a fed-up statement Thursday from U.S. Rep. John Lewis on the state’s food stamp backlog woes can be read as a manifesto against the Republican administration. Said the civil rights […]

  3. […] Gov. Deal orders changes to food stamp program as feds threaten to cut funding Gov. Nathan Deal is ordering changes aimed at clearing the backlog jamming the state's food stamp program as federal officials threaten to cut up to $ 76 million in administrative funding if the problems aren't fixed. Deal's office said Department of … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) […]