More than 2 million Illinoisans dependent on food stamps

September 10, 2013
By Ted Dabrowski, John Klingner

The total number of Illinoisans on food stamps increased to nearly 2.15 million in June. One-sixth of Illinoisans, or 16.7 percent, are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

More than 100,000 people were added to the SNAP rolls in June. This is an artificially high number resulting from disaster-response programs deployed in response to heavy flooding across the state. A vast majority of the Illinoisans enrolled under the D-SNAP (disaster) program that month.

Most of those D-SNAP enrollees should be only temporary. As flood-affected areas across Illinois begin to recover, the number of food-stamp enrollees in Illinois should drop when those using D-SNAP leave the program.

Unfortunately, there are still millions of other Illinoisans who seem to be permanently stuck on government assistance, and that number is growing larger.

Even when June’s increase in enrollment is left out, an average of 16,000 Illinoisans a month joined SNAP over the past year.

Illinois is not on the path to economic prosperity. When a state manages to put more people on food stamps than it put back to work, it should be clear that its current policies are not working.

Illinois continues to add people to its food stamp rolls at a clip faster than nearly every other state in the nation. Between May 2012 and May 2013, 196,000 additional Illinoisans became dependent on SNAP.

During that same time period, Illinois added only 48,300 nonfarm payroll jobs.

To restore true prosperity Illinois must overturn the failed policies it’s been following over the past decade and embrace pro-growth and pro-job policies.

Illinois can do that by lowering its corporate income tax rate to encourage business investment, reducing onerous and costly regulations that stifle entrepreneurship and passing labor reforms to make Illinois a more attractive business destination.

Enacting these polices would eventually allow Illinoisans to once again provide for themselves rather than depend on a government handout.