Fiscal Alliance Says MA in ‘Dire Need’ of Welfare Reform
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
"The welfare of taxpayer money should be a high priority for everything our state government does," said Paul D. Craney, Executive Director of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, in a statement. "Last year, our elected leaders passed reform minded legislation for EBT cards and welfare assistance. It's time those reforms were put into practice.”
Massachusetts was recently named the fourth biggest welfare state in the country by CNBC, with 2.09 percent of the Commonwealth's population assistance and 2007 spending of $295.29 million. Monahan recently took over as interim Commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance after her predecesor, Daniel Curley, was forced to resign when a report showed 47,000 families received welfare funds were unable to be accounted for and $30 million in food stamps were distributed to ineligible people.
Earlier this year, state officials also found that 19,000 of Massachusetts' welfare recipients could not be accounted for after mailings sent to them ended up back in state mailboxes marked "return to sender." With their status unknown, some have speculated that at least a portion of the 19,000 may not even reside in the Commonwealth and receive benefits anyway.
The state Legislature did pass some reforms for EBT cards, which serve as limited-use debit cards for those receiving government assistance, but a number of lawmakers and observers have maintained that those reforms did not go far enough.
“I think in the last two years, we’ve struggled to be move forward on welfare reform," state Rep. Shaunna O'Connell (R-Taunton) told GoLocalWorcester last month.
"We’ve gotten some good bipartisan legislation passed however there seems to be hesitancy to do the bold reforms that it will take to ensure a system that does not ensure waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars."
One piece of legislation currently on the table on Beacon Hill is House Bill No. 90, which proposes that EBT cards include photo identification. House Bill No. 92 would require the annual registration of residents receiving transitional assistance benefits, unlike the one-time registration system currently in place. House Bill No. 133 would introduce a series of identity verification measures to eliminate fraud from the state's welfare programs.
"The best way we can reduce the growing unemployment, underemployment and those on welfare assistance is put into place laws that help make Massachusetts more economically competitive with our neighboring states,” said Craney.
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