The cloud inside the silver lining

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Curiously, sometimes having more money available for an entitlement program – through ARRA, for example –  can actually mean that while access improves, quality of service declines on certain measures.

Stimulus dollars have been used across the country to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps).  But the  Texas auditor’s office discovered that with the increased case loads, wait times for applicants have gone way up. In 2006, 92 percent of applications were processed in a timely way, according to the audit. In the first part of Fiscal year 2010, that number had fallen to less than 70 percent.

One of the problems cited in the report is the fact that many of the workers hired to serve the growing population of food stamp recipients are new. Those who have less than two years experience are now 41 percent of the front line workforce – compared to four percent in Fiscal year 2005.

We wonder. Are these problems unique to Texas. Or does the Texas experience reflect what’s happening in other states as well?

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