This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.
SPRINGFIELD â?? SinceÂ IllinoisÂ has seen an explosion in the number of people receiving food stamps, even a slight error costs taxpayers millions.
In this instance, a mistake rate of less than 2 percent means $50 million is misspent.
Thatâ??s the hard truth behindÂ the press releaseÂ lauding Illinois for having a 98.3 percent accuracy rate for itsÂ Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
Illinoisâ?? error rate, from either overspending on food stamps or not spending enough, is 1.74 percent, according toÂ Januari Smith, a spokeswoman for the stateâ??sÂ Department of Human Services.
Just more than 2 million people in the state, or 16 percent of the population, are enrolled in the federally managed SNAP.Â Washington D.C,. sent Illinois $3 billion for SNAP last year.
The numbers: 1.74 percent of $3 billion is $52 million. Thatâ??s a lot of taxpayer waste.
â??The more people you add and the bigger the program gets, the more cumbersome it gets. The more difficult it gets to manage. And you have money being given away that shouldnâ??t be given away,â?ť saidÂ Ted Dabrowski, vice President of policy for theÂ Illinois Policy Institute.
Dabrowksi said Illinois saw its food stamp population jump 11.5 percent last year.
Smith said the increase in the number of families receiving food stamps can be blamed on the economy, andÂ admits the program is becoming difficult for the stateâ??s bureaucracy to manage.
DHS had 1,870 case workers handling 1.75 million cases last December, compared to 2,000 workers handling about 1 million cases in 2006, Smith said.
The food stamp rolls have also seen a significant national rise. Since 2011, nearly 2 million more people have signed up for food stamps each year.
Figures from theÂ U.S. Department of AgricultureÂ show that 47.6 million peopleÂ AmericansÂ receive some type of food stamp assistance. The average payout per person is about $133 dollars a month. The average payout per family is about $275 dollars a month.
Dabrowksi said Illinois is the â??middle of the packâ?ť nationally in total recipients, but noted the state was second in the nation in food stamp growth last year.
â??We had a growth of 11.5 percent of the number of people on food stamps,â?ť Dabrowksi said. â??OnlyÂ WyomingÂ was worse.â?ť
Dabrowksi said Illinois needs to add more jobs to get more people off food stamps.
By growing the economy, more people can get away from government programs and allow the state to help those who truly need help, he said.
Illinois is being awarded $4 million by the USDA as recognition of it 98 percent accuracy rate. Smith said she doesnâ??t know how Illinois will spend that money.
Reach Benjamin Yount atÂ Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.orgÂ and find him on Twitter @BenYount.