State Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) was among more than half-a-dozen Republicans to vote against a bill doing away with an asset test to determine eligibility for federal food assistance in the state.
However, with the legislature controlled by Democrats, the bill passed 25-13, with five Republicans crossing the aisle in support of the measure. It effectively removes a decade-old GOP-authored policy that required a $5,000 asset test for the food assistance program.
Despite the fact that in 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer increased the threshold to $15,000 via executive order, the sponsor of the new bill, Sen. Jeff Irwin )D-Ann Arbor), said he wanted to make sure the lower standard could not be reverted to by a future governor.
“When folks are low income and they are eligible for federal food assistance, we should make sure that food assistance gets on their table,” Irwin told The Detroit News.
Sen. Theis said her opposition was based on her belief that the asset test helped to protect against fraud.
“We’ve got people struggling really hard to put food on their table,” Theis told the paper. “They’re not taking money from the government in order to do it, and we’re going to take their taxpayer dollars away from them to feed someone who has more than $15,000 in the bank?”
Because the food assistance program is federally funded, the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency says the proposal has no financial impact on the state’s budget.
The bill now goes to the state House for consideration.