On Thursday, Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-C-I-Lewiston, called on the Assembly Majority to pass the Public Assistance Integrity Act to protect taxpayers and prevent the state from losing $120 million in federal funding.
The federal government has mandated that states pass measures that prevent welfare recipients from using welfare money at liquor stores, casinos, strip clubs and other similar establishments, or lose federal funding for welfare programs. The State Senate has already passed this legislation, and the deadline for the Assembly to pass it or risk losing funding is Feb. 21.
"The deadline to pass the Public Assistance Integrity Act is fast approaching. If we don't pass this, we hurt taxpayers who are forced to pay for welfare abuse, as well as honest families who need public assistance, since there would be less money available to them," Ceretto said. "This is a bipartisan, common-sense bill that strengthens our public assistance system. I call on the Assembly to pass it and protect both public assistance recipients and hard-working taxpayers."
Right now, New York state law does not place limits on how or where electronic benefit transfer cards can be used. EBT Cards are similar to debit cards that are given to public assistance recipients. Without measures to stop their use at ATMs inside casinos or strip clubs, welfare abusers are free to withdraw money and use it for illicit purposes. The Obama administration has recognized this problem and will withhold federal funding for public assistance programs that do not make these reforms. In New York's case, $120 million could be lost if this is not passed by Feb. 21.