Ted Dabrowski is convinced the reasons behind the rising number of Illinois residents now depending on food stamps starts and ends in Springfield.
“That we have so many people on food stamps says a lot about the bad policy decisions we're making in Illinois,” Dabrowski, president of the government watchdog website Wirepoints, told the Lake County Gazette. “I think they should be making it easier for people to get jobs and for companies to create jobs than making it easier for people to get food stamps.”
A new Illinois Policy Institute report showed that Illinois, at 13.63 percent, now has a higher percentage of residents receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits than any other neighboring state and trails only Pennsylvania (13.64 percent) for most in the country.
Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute | Photo courtesy of the Illinois Policy Institute
Over the last eight years, the number of individuals receiving such benefits in Illinois increased by 2.3 percent, all while the nearby states of Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin saw enrollment decreases. As of 2016, Illinois was only one of eight states in the country to forgo work requirements as a prerequisite to receiving the benefits.
“I don’t see anything changing,” Dabrowski said. “We’ve been in this position for years, and the laws coming out of Springfield are making things worse.”
Dabrowski said that as long as lawmakers continue to have a tax-first attitude about everything, things aren’t likely to change anytime soon.
“They refuse to reform how the government spends,” he said. “Until they pass an amendment to fix pension, and until they change the collective bargaining laws that give individuals more power over unions, people will continue to be more dependent on food stamps. I think all the higher taxes reduce the number of jobs and chase people and businesses away. Our job growth lags the rest of the country. When you add all those things up and the size of our government, it’s squeezing the private sector out, and people become more dependent on food stamps.”