West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) signed into law Tuesday a law that requires state residents to work or volunteer to continue receiving food stamps.
Beginning Oct. 1, residents will be required to prove 20 hours of work or time spent volunteering to receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which proves a maximum of $192 a month for food.
Recipients that are disabled, parents with dependent children, pregnant women and veterans are exempt.
Federal regulations already require work or service requirements for those able, but waivers have been obtained for most West Virginia counties due to high unemployment.
The new law rescinds the waivers requiring all counties to enforce the federal requirement.
“Welfare was never intended to be a one-way handout, but a program based on the idea of reciprocity,” said Robert Rector, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Those who receive benefits from the government should be required to work or participate in work-training as a condition.”
Alabama began the state-led movement to remove waivers in 2017 and saw the number of recipients who were otherwise not exempt drop from 5,538 to 831 in just the first four months under the new restrictions.
“Work requirements have been enormously successful at reducing the number of people on food stamps. And while they made sense in the early part of the recession when unemployment was higher, that is no longer the case,” said Robert Doar, a fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
Georgia was the next state to implement the requirement and has seen amazing results:
When the April 1 deadline came around for them to find work, more than half — 7,251 — were dropped from the program, according to state figures released this week. Essentially, the number of recipients spiraled down from 11,779 to 4,528, or a drop of 62 percent.