LIMA — U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, believes a “tough love” approach is best when it comes to getting able-bodied adults without dependents back to work.
He hopes a piece of legislation he will introduce next week in the House of Representatives will bring those people between the ages of 18 and 19 getting certain government benefits into the workforce.
Jordan made an appearance Friday at Lima Pallet Company to discuss the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act, which would add an additional requirement for able-bodied adults without dependents to either be working, looking for work or be enrolled in a job-training program in order to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly referred to as food stamps.
“Right now, we have 80 different means-tested social welfare programs, and hardly any of them incentivize work and encourage people we’re trying to help to focus on work, which we all know is what’s going to help them get to a better position in life, help their families and, ultimately, achieve the American dream,” Jordan said.
Companion legislation is also set to be re-introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who previously introduced this legislation in 2014. Together, these legislators hope to stem the growth of the number of people receiving food stamps, which, according to Jordan, has grown tremendously.
“Seven years ago, when President Obama took office, there were 17 million people on food stamps,” he said. “Today, there are 47 million. We don’t require, even for able-bodied, single individuals with no dependents, any work in order to receive food stamps.”
Jordan noted that the legislation’s approach worked successfully in Maine, where the state has seen a large reduction in the number of food stamp participants.
“They’ve seen an 80 percent reduction,” he said. “And all they’re requiring is 80 hours a month for folks to be doing some kind of work or job training. People will say, ‘Well, instead of doing the job training and work requirements, I’ll just go out and get a job.’”
Also speaking at Lima Pallet, Ohio Means Jobs-Allen County workforce development administrator Joe Patton emphasized that for those who would face this work requirement, there are opportunities available locally to fill it.
“As of Wednesday, we have over 1,700 jobs within a 10-mile radius of Lima,” he said. “Over 800 of those only require a high school diploma or less to get started, and most of the wages start at $11 or $12 an hour, so it’s a great entry-level start. These actions will help nudge people into the workforce, and we have a safety net to help them succeed, such as with transportation.”
Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce CEO Jed Metzger also spoke highly of this approach, noting that finding employment can help SNAP recipients not only financially but emotionally.
“When people work, it’s a proven fact that they feel better about themselves, and they feel productive,” he said.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.