At his executive budget presentation in Queens this morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated his call to stop New York City from requiring food stamp applicants to submit to fingerprinting. Governor Cuomo’s push to stop fingerprinting is one of his only plans that has drawn opposition from Mayor Michael Bloomberg who argued fingerprinting isn’t a deterrent to prospective food stamp applicants and is necessary to prevent fraud. In his speech today, Governor Cuomo said that argument hasn’t swayed him.
“Flipside of the argument is, well, fingerprinting helps detect fraud. I understand that, I understand that. My position is this; there are many ways to detect fraud, especially nowadays, you don’t need fingerprinting,” Governor Cuomo said in his speech. “If fingerprinting is stopping people from applying for foodstamps so children are going to bed hungry, let’s do away with fingerprinting and let’s do away with fingerprinting now. Let’s make sure no child goes to bed hungry in New York.”
Governor Cuomo described the fingerprinting process as “intrusive, and frightening, and just unknown and threatening” for many people.
“The federal government runs a food stamp program, we leave a billion dollars on the table every year from people who don’t claim the foodstamps,” Governor Cuomo said. “Why? Well, one of the reasons is we require to get foodstamps in some parts of the state, you have to be fingerprinted and many people find fingerprinting intrusive, and frightening, and just unknown and threatening. So, you have many people who are eligible for foodstamps, but don’t go claim the foodstamps because of the fingerprinting and their children go to bed hungry.”
New York state stopped requiring fingerprinting for food stamps five years ago, but Mayor Bloomberg kept the program in the city. Along with Arizona, New York City is the only place in the country that takes fingerprints from food stamp applicants. The governor’s office has the ability to stop food stamp fingerprinting in New York City without legislative approval.
In a Q&A session after the presentation, NY1 reporter Bobby Cuza asked the governor if he had spoken to Mayor Bloomberg about their difference in opinion.
“We’ve had some conversations. We’re going to have more conversations and, as you know, I’m talking to a number of people about the issue,” Governor Cuomo said. “You know my opinion and I’m continuing to discuss it. I want to understand all the different points of view, but I have my perspective and I have not yet been dissuaded from my perspective.”