One of the things I am most proud of from my time as Governor was how we improved services. One way we did this was by helping low-income Nebraskans find quality, higher-paying jobs through an innovative program called SNAP Next Step. The program helps families on SNAP, otherwise known as food stamps, with job training, resume writing, and job search coaching to find that better job – that next step toward a better future.
We prioritized giving people a hand up, not a handout. The results were incredible. By the end of my administration as Governor, hundreds of families had found new or better employment. Many are now working more predictable hours, allowing them to spend more time together as a family. They have increased their monthly income by more than $2,100 – that’s $25,000 more per year. About 60% of these families no longer needed any state food assistance, and the other 40% reduced their need for SNAP benefits. Before beginning the program, the average monthly benefit was $508. After SNAP Next Step, the average monthly benefit dropped to $179, a decrease of $318 per month.
As I said in my Maiden Speech on the Senate floor, Nebraska is what America is supposed to be. SNAP Next Step was a win for families, a win for our workforce, and a win for taxpayers. The program worked in Nebraska, and it is ready for America. That’s why this week I proposed my first bill, the SNAP Next Step Act, which would bring this innovative program to every worker on SNAP across our country.
We all know the federal government is filled with wasteful spending. One of my priorities is ensuring any taxpayer money the government does spend is spent as efficiently as possible. My legislation redirects, but does not increase, pre-existing SNAP administrative spending to directly help workers. It will be used to provide services such as job search coaching, interview preparation, and resume writing. In doing so, we can give people the tools they need to get off government assistance and into new and better jobs – without spending any additional taxpayer dollars.
This redirected federal funding will also be used to provide workers with a benefits calculator. This will help our SNAP families overcome their fear they will lose out by accepting a new job. Many workers fear that taking a promotion or finding a better paying job may result in the loss of health care or food benefits. The benefits calculator helps them see how a new promotion or job will make them better off. Workers who take these opportunities end up in an overall better financial situation. They are also able to spend more time with their loved ones. My SNAP Next Step Act is a proven way to celebrate the dignity of work and empower families to achieve greater financial independence.
Nebraskan April Claussen knows how successful the program can be. Before April started SNAP Next Step, she was a single mother of two who lived on $700 per month and utilized government assistance to make ends meet for her family. She applied to over 1,100 jobs but the only one she could find was at a gas station. Then she found SNAP Next Step, which enabled her to go back to school to complete her associate degree. While juggling work, family, and a full class schedule, April was able to earn her degree two days before her youngest child graduated high school. Because of the program, she got a job working for the State of Nebraska helping other people find the same successes she did.
April is now able to spend more time with her family and working normal hours, which leads to a better quality of life. SNAP Next Step worked for April, and it will work for people like her across America – if Congress passes my bill.
By passing this important legislation, we can ensure that the SNAP program promotes self-sufficiency and grit. Together, we can provide a next step for all Americans in need.
Along with Senator Fischer and the rest of my colleagues in the Nebraska delegation, my team and I are here to serve you. Contact my team and I anytime by phone at 202-224-4224 or on my website at www.ricketts.senate.gov/contact. I am honored to serve our great state and will continue to work to protect the Good Life from Washington overreach.