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NEW: Michael O. Moore: Time For Real Reform, Not Rhetoric

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

 

The following is an op-ed penned by Massachusetts State Senator for the 2nd Worcester district, Michael O. Moore.

During the past few years, despite its well-intentions, it has become apparent that our current welfare system is in need of repair. Like many, I support reforming our current system. However, there needs to be true, effective reform, not just rhetoric and sound bites.

The Massachusetts Senate has a long tradition of reform and protecting taxpayer monies, especially regarding welfare benefits. In 2012, continuing on this tradition, the Legislature approved legislation limiting the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, or EBT cards, to prevent recipients from using their benefits to purchase cigarettes, liquor, lottery tickets or using them at establishments such as nail salons.

Although the 2012 legislation was an effective starting point in the discussion, it is time for comprehensive reform. As I stated earlier, any reform regarding welfare, must effectively save taxpayers in the long run. Legislation must make efforts to reduce fraud and excess, without affecting those negatively that are legally qualified and using their benefits appropriately.

While I am not opposed to the idea of placing photo ID’s on EBT cards I want to ensure its implementation will actually result in a reduction of fraud and abuse. The Department of Transitional Assistance should exhaust any available options before investing on new programs. Also, before spending taxpayer dollars on new programs to deter fraud, we must also have significant information on the costs of implementation and potential savings.

Additionally, the placement of a photo ID on an EBT card must be accompanied by some form of enforcement. Simply putting a photo on an ID will not deter abuse, if merchants and retailers do not check them and report those who are knowingly abusing the system. I have received letters from constituents who share the same concerns that I have regarding recent reports of fraud and abuse. We must work in partnership with the business community and the general public to ensure program fraud does not persist.

I am interested in passing meaningful reforms that will have a real impact on the way the Commonwealth does business. We must work together, including taxpayers and businesses, to reform the Commonwealth’s welfare system, to reduce fraud and negligence, without negatively affecting those who are properly using their benefits. Reform must be effective, not sound bites or political rhetoric. It is time for reform that will save taxpayers and save a program for those who are genuinely in need.

 

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