Michigan zigs, the nation zags

Michigan is clamping down on food stamp recipients while many other states are easing requirements.

A report produced by the Michigan League for Human Services circulating among Lansing policymakers reveals that a number of states have dropped asset tests for food stamp recipients in the wake of a tough economy.

According to the report (no URL available), 16 states have dropped asset tests since 2008; during that same time period, Michigan is the only state to institute an asset test. Among the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates in September, Michigan was the only one with an asset test (six of the 10 eliminated asset tests since 2008).

About 17 percent of Michigan residents, including about 800,000 children, receive help from the food assistance program. Michigan has the third-highest rate of food stamp participation in the country.

Under new Department of Human Services guidelines, families receiving food stamps cannot have more than $5,000 in assets. The first $15,000 in value of vehicles is exempt from the asset test, with the first vehicle exempt completely.

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