Tuesday, October 18, 2011

State Employees on Food Stamps: Is a Thousand Too Few?

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Over the weekend, word came out that almost 1,000 state employees are on food stamps, which, Christ, is an embarrassment. Not just because Governor Haslam gave his cabinet all hefty raises this spring while other state employees were starving, but because that number only tells us how many state employees are on food stamps, not how many state employees are eligible for food stamps.

How many state employees would be on food stamps if they didn't have a second job? If they didn't have a spouse with an income?

I thought maybe the state's open government site would give me some insight, but their database doesn't seem to let you just generically search for how many people are making poverty-level wages, and worse than that, it hasn't been updated since March. Well, that's some fine open-governmenting right there.

But the fact remains that it makes no sense not to pay state employees enough to live on so that they have to turn around and take taxpayer dollars to be able to eat. Better for us, as a state whose revenue comes through sales tax, for us to pay our state employees a living wage so that they can turn around and pay into our state coffers.

Maybe next year the Governor should look to giving raises to the people for whom that money would make a real impact, instead of making sure his buddies have one more mattress to throw on top of their individual peas. Although, shoot, these princesses probably don't have a pea. It's probably some poor state worker making food-stamp wages who has to lie under their mattresses so the state's elite employees can complain about how hard it is for them to sleep at night.

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