LEGISLATIVE FISCAL ESTIMATE

[Second Reprint]

ASSEMBLY, No. 2359

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

220th LEGISLATURE

 

DATED: JULY 5, 2022

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Synopsis:

Provides for streamlining of SNAP application process and establishes SNAP application call center; appropriates $750,000.

Type of Impact:

State and county expenditure increase.† State revenue increase.

Agencies Affected:

Division of Family Development, Department of Human Services; County Welfare Agencies.

 

 

Office of Legislative Services Estimate

Fiscal Impact

Annual

 

State Expenditure Increase

Indeterminate, Minimum $750,000

 

County Expenditure Increase

Indeterminate

 

State Revenue Increase

Indeterminate

 

 

 

 

         The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) concludes the Division of Family Development (DFD) in the Department of Human Services (DHS), along with county welfare agencies (CWAs), will experience indeterminate annual increases in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) administrative expenditures to comply with the provisions of the bill.† The OLS assumes that the appropriation of $750,000 under the bill represents the minimum cost of the bill to the State.

         The federal government shares all administrative expenses of SNAP with the State.† As such, the bill will also result in a State revenue increase from federal SNAP administrative funds, to the extent that the State expenditures qualify for a federal match.† Any increase in SNAP benefits under the bill would not have any fiscal impact on the State, as SNAP benefits are paid directly from federal funds.†

         While the OLS cannot quantify the total cost of the bill, it is possible that federal funds distributed to the State for SNAP administration under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, which do not require a State match, may be sufficient to provide for any additional expenses above the $750,000 appropriation and any qualifying federal SNAP administrative match.

BILL DESCRIPTION

 

This bill amends an existing law, which requires the DHS to establish a streamlined SNAP application process for seniors, to instead require the application process be streamlined for all residents of New Jersey.† In streamlining the SNAP application process, the Commissioner of Human Services will be required to, at a minimum, update the online application system to ensure the system employs current technology and is user-friendly, with features that include, but are not limited to, easy account creation, easy access, and easy tracking of an applicantís application status.† The bill also amends the existing law to provide that the DHS, working in consultation and cooperation with appropriate advocacy organizations, is required to engage in comprehensive outreach efforts to ensure that New Jersey residents, not just eligible seniors as required under current law, are made aware of their ability to apply for and obtain SNAP benefits through a streamlined and expedited process.

††††† The bill also requires the DHS to establish a SNAP application call center where department employees, or persons under contract with the department, are available in real time to assist individuals in navigating the SNAP application process, checking on the status of an application, and troubleshooting any issues with the application.†

 

 

FISCAL ANALYSIS

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 

††††† None received.

 

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

 

††††† SNAP is federally regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); however, the DFD works with CWAs to administer the program on a State level.† As such, the OLS concludes that the DFD and county governments will incur an indeterminate amount of annual administrative costs to comply with the billís provisions. †The OLS assumes that the appropriation of $750,000 under the bill represents the minimum cost of the bill to the State.

††††† The federal government shares all administrative expenses of SNAP with the State.† As such, the bill will also result in an indeterminate State revenue increase from federal SNAP administrative funds, to the extent that the State expenditures qualify for a federal match.† Any increase in SNAP benefits under the bill would not have any fiscal impact on the State, as SNAP benefits are paid directly from federal funds.

††††† One-time expenses under the bill include streamlining the SNAP application process and engaging in a comprehensive SNAP outreach effort.† Additional annual costs will be incurred in establishing and maintaining a SNAP application call center.† In addition to an initial application, beneficiaries also need to recertify SNAP benefits at least once every 12 months or every 24 months, depending on the beneficiary.† This estimate assumes that the call center will serve as a resource for recertifying applicants, as well as initial applicants.† For reference, as of April 2022, there are 866,381 individuals and 450,356 households participating in the SNAP program.

††††† Currently, SNAP beneficiaries can contact CWAs to inquire about SNAP application issues.† It may be possible that the DFD will be able to utilize the existing services provided by the CWAs to minimize the cost of establishing a call center.† For example, calls received by the call center may be able to be rerouted to the applicable CWA for response.† It is likely, however, that additional staff will be required to respond to incoming calls, whether on a State or county level.

††††† While the OLS cannot quantify the total cost of the bill, it is possible that federal funds distributed to the State for SNAP administration under the ARP Act of 2021, which do not require a State match, may be sufficient to provide for any additional expenses above the $750,000 appropriation and any qualifying federal SNAP administrative match.† Specifically, the federal ARP Act of 2021 provides $1.135 billion over a three-year period for state SNAP administrative costs to help accommodate the increased demand for benefits resulting from the COVID pandemic.† Between FY 2021 and FY 2023, New Jersey is scheduled to receive $21 million from this source.† By comparison, total SNAP administrative costs for FY 2019 in New Jersey were $326.8 million.† Guidance from USDA directs states to use these funds for the following purposes, which also coincide with the provisions of this bill:† investments in technology to improve client access to SNAP; investments in employees to provide the necessary training to modernize customer service delivery; explore opportunities to improve service delivery and access to vulnerable populations; and revise SNAP outreach materials to ensure program information is easy to find, clear, and concise.† To the extent that the department uses the ARP funds to fulfill any provisions of the bill, costs incurred by the State or County, as well as federal revenue received for SNAP administrative expenses, will decrease.

 

 

Section:

Human Services

Analyst:

Sarah M. Schmidt

Lead Research Analyst

Approved:

Thomas Koenig

Legislative Budget and Finance Officer

 

 

This legislative fiscal estimate has been produced by the Office of Legislative Services due to the failure of the Executive Branch to respond to our request for a fiscal note.

 

This fiscal estimate has been prepared pursuant to P.L.1980, c.67 (C.52:13B-6 et seq.).