Echoing a call made by anti-hunger advocates for years, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday argued for the elimination of the requirement that most food stamp applicants be fingerprinted before receiving benefits.
Advocates have long said the requirement was an unnecessary barrier, and in his annual State of the State speech, the governor agreed. "For all of our progress, there are still basic wrongs to right. There is never an excuse for letting any child in New York go
to bed hungry," he told a crowd of legislators, mayors and other dignitaries. "We must increase participation in the food stamp program, remove barriers to participation, and eliminate the stigma associated with this program. And we must stop fingerprinting for food."
New York City's food stamp administrator, the Human Resources Administration, has long resisted efforts to relax the fingerprinting requirement, which HRA claims is a necessary anti-fraud measure that does not inhibit people from applying for food stamps.
The federal government pays food stamp benefits. Last year, an Agriculture Department official criticized the state's fingerprinting regime.
Cuomo's speech also called for legalizing casino gambling in the state, saying New York must "recognize reality" and "do it right, make it safe." He also called for investing $1 billion in renewing Buffalo (which has the nation's third-highest poverty rate), proposed building the nation's largest convention center in Queens, advocated for pension reform and said the rest of the state's 2013 budget gap must be closed without raising taxes or fees.