The state Senate passed legislation Tuesday that will cut down on welfare abuse, one of its sponsors said in a media release.
The Public Assistance Integrity Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, would put restrictions on what can be paid for with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.
The Assembly still needs to pass the legislation before it can go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing. The federal government has mandated that each state establish a system of fraud prevention by Feb. 2014.
“Public assistance is designed to help needy families provide for their children until they can transition back to the workforce and become self-sufficient,” Libous said. “This common-sense legislation would protect hardworking taxpayers from abuse while ensuring that families receiving welfare benefits continue to get the temporary assistance they need and deserve.”
EBT cards work like a debit card for welfare recipients. They’re used for Food Stamps, which have strict regulations on what can be purchased, and Cash Assistance, which doesn’t. The latter is intended for items that can’t be purchased using Food Stamps, such as soap, toothpaste, school supplies and toiletries.
If the state does not act by the deadline, federal funding for Cash Assistance will be cut by 5 percent, or $120 million.