John Bel Edwards’ Administration Contradicts Itself On Food Stamps

On Monday, Louisiana’s Democrat governor John Bel Edwards took to the microphone on the House floor and gave his state-of-the-state address to the assembled legislators and the statewide viewing audience, and Edwards  made sure to let us all know that after three years and change of his tenure in office all is well in the Sportsman’s Paradise.

Here’s what he said, in pertinent part…

…we are putting this state back on a path to more prosperity, more opportunity.

We just recently announced that personal income in Louisiana is the highest it has ever been. That’s more money going directly into the pockets of our workers. At $252 billion, our GDP is the highest it’s ever been. It means that more people are working and our businesses are doing better. It means that the state is producing more than ever before.

And make no mistake – Louisiana IS open for business. In just the past few years, we’ve landed more than 128 new economic development projects that are resulting in more than 27,000 new jobs, retaining over 21,000 jobs and resulting in over $33 billion in new capital investment.

This means more people will be going to work for the homegrown companies of Waitr and LHC Group in Lafayette. Up in Monroe, CenturyLink, the only Fortune 200 company headquartered in Louisiana, is extending its commitment to our state through 2025. It means in Baton Rouge, Exxon is investing in a polyolefins plant and that in Shreveport, out-of-state company SuperATV is developing a manufacturing and distribution facility. In New Orleans, it means landing the largest economic development deal in our state’s history with DXC Technology, and in Lake Charles, it means that hundreds of folks are working for Citadel Completions at an aircraft center. In Central Louisiana, it means Hunt Forest Products and its joint-venture partner have opened a state-of-the-art sawmill in LaSalle Parish.

What’s the secret to this success? An improving economy and an attractive business climate are essential. But the true key to our economic progress is our workforce. When businesses come to Louisiana, they do so because we have the talent to get the job done. This would not be possible without our renewed commitment to funding our top-notch universities and technical colleges. By partnering with local businesses, they are creating a pipeline of talent that fuels both established industries and new emerging industry.

Sounds like an awfully rosy picture, doesn’t it? We can quibble with Edwards’ numbers, and we can show lots of evidence that he’s outright lying based on economic data and business surveys and so forth.

But it turns out we don’t have to. We have this, which happened only one day after Edwards’ exercise in self-congratulation…

At the capitol Tuesday, the head of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) called on the legislature to give more money to help the state’s food stamp program, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Marketa Walters says DCFS needs about $13 million more than is in the current Republican plan to pay the bills in 2020.

Wait, what?

Even though the department’s funding level would be the same as in 2018, she says her costs have gone up. Walters says she would have to cut food stamps if the current number does not change, but even she says there will likely be a solution, so those on SNAP shouldn’t panic yet. Keep in mind the House is budgeting with a lower revenue estimate than is expected, and this is just the beginning of this budgeting process, so lawmakers can identify these sorts of issues.

Sorry, but this doesn’t compute.

If Louisiana is doing so much better economically, and opportunities have broken out all over the state thanks to John Bel Edwards’ inspired leadership, and the state’s economy is a roaring tiger, then why does Marketa Walters need more money for food stamps?

Costs going up? Yeah, maybe – though it’s hard to imagine the program’s overhead would rise all that much.

Why wouldn’t that be offset by a smaller number of people needing food stamps in Louisiana?

That demand is, after all, down significantly across the country.

The latest USDA data revealed that the number of households on food stamps in October 2018 dropped to 19,410,711, down by 1,428,558 from February 2017 when 20,839,269 households were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal government program which administers food stamps.

The most recent data on the number of food stamp households had also reached historic lows not seen since June 2010 when enrollment in the nation’s food stamp program was at 19,143,572.

Is food stamp enrollment in Louisiana not dropping along with the rest of the country? If not, how do you claim that the state’s economy is taking off?

Both things cannot be true. Either Louisiana’s economy is moribund and in need of better management, or Walters doesn’t need any more funding for the state’s food stamp program than she made do with last year.

John Bel Edwards spent the entire 2015 campaign touting his adherence to the West Point Honor Code, which holds that a cadet will neither lie, cheat nor steal, or tolerate those who do. So is he lying, or is Walters?

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