ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION No. 131

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 2, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  SHANIQUE SPEIGHT

District 29 (Essex and Hudson)

Assemblywoman  SHAVONDA E. SUMTER

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblywoman  CARMEN THERESA MORALES

District 34 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Urges federal government to raise federal poverty line for public assistance programs.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Assembly Resolution urging the federal government to raise the federal poverty line for public assistance programs.

 

Whereas, The federal poverty line is an inaccurate measurement of poverty, preventing many poor Americans from accessing public assistance programs such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Program, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, among others; and

Whereas, The current federal poverty line was developed in the 1960s and was based on a household’s ability to purchase basic foodstuffs alone; and

Whereas, Aside from adjusting for inflation, this calculation has not changed since its inception; and

Whereas, Over the past sixty years, housing, transportation, child care, and medical costs‑all of which are not included in the federal government’s poverty calculation‑have risen exponentially; and

Whereas, As a result, nearly 53 million households cannot afford basic necessities such as food, housing, and health care, but only 37.9 million are officially recorded as living in poverty as of 2022; and

Whereas, Because the federal government uses the poverty threshold to determine eligibility for public assistance programs, any individual or household not captured by the official poverty calculation is unable to access life-saving social welfare; and

Whereas, Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rampant rate of inflation have further compounded the cost-of-living crisis in America, increasing the financial burden on many poor Americans who can neither afford basic necessities nor access public assistance; and

Whereas, In addition, the recent trend toward raising the minimum wage across the country has had unintended consequences for low-wage earners who have lost access to public assistance programs in exchange for a marginal, and often insufficient, increase in pay, resulting in a benefits cliff; and

Whereas, This benefits cliff creates a disincentive to work, as low-wage earners often choose to be unemployed or work less rather than lose access to crucial public assistance programs; and

Whereas, By raising the federal poverty line, the federal government can more accurately report the number of impoverished Americans and, therefore, expand access to public assistance programs for all individuals and households who need it; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  This House urges the federal government to raise the federal poverty line for public assistance programs.

     2.  Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly to the President of the United States, the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the United States Senate, and every member of Congress elected from this State.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This resolution urges the federal government to raise the federal poverty line for public assistance programs.  The current federal poverty line was developed in the 1960s and was based on a household’s ability to afford basic foodstuffs alone; it did not account for other living expenses such as housing, transportation, child care, and health care, which have all risen exponentially in price over the past sixty years.  The federal government has not changed the original calculation for the poverty line since its inception, aside from adjusting for inflation.  Consequently, nearly 53 million households cannot afford basic necessities such as food, housing, and health care, but only 37.9 million are officially recorded as living in poverty, as of 2022. 

     The poverty threshold is used to determine eligibility for public assistance programs.  As a result, the individuals and households who do not earn enough money to support their basic needs but do not meet the stringent limits of the current federal poverty line are without access to public assistance.  Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rampant rate of inflation have only worsened the cost-of-living crisis, increasing the financial burden on many poor Americans who cannot access social welfare.  In addition, recent policies to raise the minimum wage across the country have had unintended consequences for low-wage earners who have lost access to public assistance in exchange for a marginal, and often insufficient, increase in pay, resulting in a benefits cliff.  By raising the federal poverty line, the federal government can more accurately report the number of impoverished Americans and, therefore, expand access to public assistance programs for the individuals and households who need it.