House and Senate Republicans aim to eliminate welfare waste
Representative Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senator Doug Magnus (R-Slayton) introduced legislation Jan. 20 to eliminate welfare waste through limited, in-state only use of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.
EBT cards provide cash and food support benefits to Minnesotans. The proposed legislation prohibits EBT recipients from cashing out their benefits or using their cards to purchase tobacco products, alcohol or lottery tickets. In addition, it eliminates out-of-state use of EBT cards and requires cashiers to request photo identification at the point of sale.
“The accountability of the state’s EBT system has been called into question and the misuse of taxpayer dollars is unacceptable,” said Senator Doug Magnus. “Through enhanced restrictions, we are ensuring EBT cards are being used for their intended purposes while doing what is right by the taxpayers who pay for those benefits.”
The current system has come under intense scrutiny for misuse. In August 2008, Minnesota House Republicans uncovered data from the Minnesota Department of Human Services showing that 309,717 EBT transactions took place in other states other than Minnesota costing taxpayers more than $10 million. An investigative report by KSTP-TV uncovered 54,000 transactions in September 2010 took place in states other than Minnesota including Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. Of those transactions, 101 were at liquor stores in eight different states.
Rep. Kurt Daudt said without effective controls and limits on the state portion of EBT card usage, state taxpayer money will continue to be misused. The legislation as proposed makes it clear where the cards can be used and what can or cannot be purchased with them.
“Lottery tickets, cigarettes and beer are not necessities,” said Representative Kurt Daudt. “The current program is being misused by the greedy at the expense of Minnesota taxpayers and those truly in need. These common sense reforms will provide Minnesota taxpayers with assurance their hard-earned dollars are being used for the program’s intended purposes.”