Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Buddy Can Dallas County Spare Half a Billion?



We live in an age in which some of us seem quite comfortable with the idea that we can leave some people behind. People on public benefits, for instance. We can't 'afford' these 'entitlements'.

The numbers suggests that we can't afford not to have them. Not just those dependent on them - I mean all of us. Or, maybe I've missed something in the news lately. Is, Dallas County, for instance, so flush with cash that we can pass up half a billion dollars?!

Larry James, my friend and our CEO at CitySquare reminds us in his blog post today that under enrollment in SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - commonly known as 'food stamps), is costing us dearly...


"The Texas culture typically chaffs at the mention of "public benefits."  Texans typically don't appreciate "welfare.""


"But, maybe we aren't looking at such benefits properly." 


"If wages are too low for a significant portion of the workforce to make a life and we continue to depend on that sector of the workforce to make our community work, then public benefits actually benefit all of us in direct and indirect ways."  


"Taken further, public benefit programs that place purchasing power in the hands of those at the very bottom of our city's economic pyramid ensure that those dollars surge into the local economy, and very quickly."  


"The fact is poor people spend what money they do have."  


"In 2010, according to the Texas Hunger Initiative, Dallas County left over $500,000,000.00 of purchasing power on the table due to the fact that all those eligible for the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP--food stamps) did not enroll to receive the benefits available and designed for working people.  Statewide the total unclaimed benefits ran into the multiple billions!"


"We need to understand a couple of things about that very significant pool of cash." 


"First, these dollars flow back to Texas from Washington, D. C. when claimed by and used by the state.  When we fail to enroll an eligible person, we allow tax dollars that we've already sent to the federal government be redeployed in some other part of the country.  The very small cost to Texas to leverage these benefits back to Dallas is more than worth it to recapture funds we've already invested or set aside for the purpose of assisting low-income Texans." 


"Second, and even more powerful, the half-billion unclaimed dollars are not just lost to our neighbors, but they are lost to the retail grocery businesses in our city.  Why these businesses don't insist on better performance by Texas is beyond me." 

Me too! Read the rest of Larry's post here...

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