Public Assistance Integrity Act passes State Senate
State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has announced today that the Public Assistance Integrity Act has passed the State Senate earlier this week by a vote of 53 to 4.
“I am pleased to announce that the Public Assistance Integrity Act has passed the State Senate with almost unanimous support,” said Ranzenhofer. “Unfortunately, until the State Assembly takes final action on this fraud prevention measure, there is no law in New York State to prohibit Electronic Benefit Transfer cards from being abused and misused.”
Over 5,000 residents have joined Senator Ranzenhofer in signing a petition to encourage the State Assembly to pass the Public Assistance Integrity Act. Residents can still join Senator Ranzenhofer’s campaign to protect taxpayer dollars by visiting ranzenhofer.nysenate.gov.
The Public Assistance Integrity Act would prohibit using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards for tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets, and ATM cash withdrawals at liquor stores and casinos. Ranzenhofer is a co-sponsor of the bill.
Part of the Public Assistance Integrity Act has been included in the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal. The provisions would prevent EBT cards from being used at liquor stores and casinos.
“While it is good news that stopping welfare fraud is on the Governor’s radar, this proposal falls short of protecting taxpayer money. It should also be illegal to purchase alcohol, lottery tickets and cigarettes with public assistance,” said Ranzenhofer.
EBT cards work like a debit card for public assistance recipients, containing both a Food Stamp and Cash Assistance component. Strict regulations already guide what can be purchased with Food Stamps. Cash assistance is intended to pay for items not covered by Food Stamps, such as soap, toothpaste, school supplies and toiletries. Currently, no restrictions apply to the use of Cash Assistance.
The Federal government has mandated that states implement a fraud prevention system by February 22. If the State of New York does not act accordingly, the Federal government will penalize the State by cutting Federal funding for Cash Assistance by 5 percent or $120 million.