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EXCLUSIVE: Rep. O’Day Votes Against EBT Reform

Thursday, April 26, 2012


State Rep. James O'Day

State Rep. James O’Day, D-West Boylston, was one of 33 House members voting against a budget amendment that would tightened the rules on the state’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system.

An aide referred all questions to the 14th Worcester District representative, but O’Day did not answer several phone calls and did not return a message seeking comment. His likely opponent in the November elections, however, was not surprised at the vote.

Kicking the can

“It’s just another example of how he would rather not save people tax money and allow the abuse to continue and for abusers of the system to kick the can down the road,” said Republican Bill McCarthy, a former Worcester city council and sheriff candidate, who has been collecting signatures on his nomination papers. All papers must be turned in to the city clerk by 5 p.m. Monday.

EBT reform was part of a $32.4-billion budget proposal the House approved this week. It included measures to crack down on those who use the cash benefits they receive to buy alcohol, cigarettes, pornography and other things opponents have criticized. Critics of the measure believe it is an unfair swipe against the state’s poorest, but the measure passed easily, with 123 members, including all House Republicans, voting in favor. There were two no votes, according to Roll Call results on the state's legislative Web site.

O'Day's fellow Worcester representatives - all Democrats - voted for the measure, including John Binienda, John Mahoney and John Fresolo.

Vote needed

Reforming the system was not an attack on poverty, but rather a necessary step to tackle welfare abuse, according to McCarthy, who said, “The people who need a hand up, we can give it to them. But there have been glaring examples of abuse. We definitely needed (reform).”

McCarthy used O’Day’s vote to criticize his proposal to increase the state income tax last year. He also accused O’Day of wanting to implement a gas tax hike.


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