Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2000-01 Budget Bill
Food Stamps Program

The Food Stamps Program provides food stamps to low-income persons. With the exception of the state-only program (discussed below), the cost of the food stamp coupons is borne by the federal government ($1.6 billion). Administrative costs are shared between the federal government (43 percent), the state (42 percent), and the counties (15 percent).

California Food Assistance Program

Federal Restrictions on Benefits for Noncitizens. With respect to noncitizens, current federal law generally limits food stamps benefits to legal noncitizens who immigrated to the U.S. prior to August 1996 and are under age 18 or over the age of 64.

State Program for Noncitizens. Created in 1997, the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) provides state-only funded food stamps benefits to (1) pre-August 1996 legal immigrants who are ineligible for federal benefits (generally individuals age 18 through 64), and (2) a very limited number of post-August 1996 legal immigrants whose sponsors are dead, disabled, or abusive. The CFAP purchases food stamp coupons from the federal government and distributes them to eligible recipients. Adult recipients are subject to a specified work requirement.

Under prior law, the program was to sunset on June 30, 2000. Chapter 147, Statutes of 1999 (1) extended the sunset indefinitely and (2) significantly expanded eligibility, from October 1999 through September 2000, to legal immigrants who arrived after August 1996.

Budget Proposal. For 2000-01, the average monthly caseload for CFAP is estimated to be 85,000 persons. The budget proposes an appropriation of $52 million from the General Fund for coupon purchases and an additional $3 million for administration in 2000-01. This is a decrease of $8 million from estimated expenditures in 1999-00, mostly attributable to nearly all of the post-1996 immigrants on CFAP losing their eligibility effective October 1, 2000, pursuant to current law.

We note that $39 million of the proposed expenditure for 2000-01 counts towards meeting the federal maintenance-of-effort requirement for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program. We also note that the cost of extending eligibility for the approximately 13,000 post-August 1996 immigrants added temporarily by Chapter 147 would be approximately $6.1 million in 2000-01 (October 2000 through June 2001) and $8.1 million annually thereafter.