Assembly speaker calls for bill to boost food, energy aid

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TRENTON -

New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin says he will push a measure aimed at giving greater assistance to residents who use the program once known as food stamps.

The Democratic assemblyman is in his first term as speaker. He discussed his plans Thursday at a statehouse news conference. He says combating hunger in the state is a top priority.

Under the legislation, every household eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, would get a $21 energy assistance payment. This then qualifies those families for greater nutritional assistance.

"Too many families are struggling to make ends meet. It's important that we strengthen New Jersey's clean energy programs, but it's also important that we remember the families who struggle each day,” Coughlin said.

Coughlin estimates that the legislation could help up to 160,000 families.

Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the legislation previously. His administration estimated it would carry a cost of between $3 million and $7 million.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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