Legislative Bill 108 would support working rural families

Farm and Food

By Nathan Beacom, former staff member

Legislative Bill (LB) 108, a bill to fix a flaw known as the “cliff effect” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) received first round approval in the Nebraska Legislature on April 14. 

Right now, if a family makes more than 130% of the federal poverty level, they lose their assistance. Most households, however, won’t make enough at that level to replace the benefits they lose, which can lead people to turn down career advances in order to keep their benefits.

This is backwards. SNAP should be set up to encourage people to advance toward self-sufficiency. LB 108 would raise the eligibility level to 165%, so people can taper off of SNAP until they make enough to replace it.

Nebraska has a low unemployment rate, but this change is designed to apply to folks who are already working. It is a way to help people on their way to stability. When a family earns more, that’s good for the whole economy.

Eliminating the cliff effect is especially important for rural areas, where rates of food insecurity are among some of the highest in the state, and because rural grocery stores rely on SNAP dollars. Every dollar of SNAP benefits has been shown to generate another $1.79 in local economic output. 

More than 30 other states have recognized the federal standard of 130% is too low, and increased their threshold. In passing LB 108, lawmakers have a chance to fix this flaw to make SNAP work better for hard-working Nebraskans.