Saturday, June 15, 2013

House Minority Leader Brad Jones’ Statement on Electronic Benefits Transfer Reforms Contained in Supplemental Budget

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today in response to reforms, contained in a mid-year supplemental budget, to the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program:

"I am pleased that the recently released Fiscal Year 2013 House Supplemental Budget includes a majority of the previously inoculated welfare reform provisions offered by members of the Republican Caucus, through two comprehensive amendments, during the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget debate.

By joining House Republicans in our ongoing attempt to overhaul and reform the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program, Democratic leadership has finally heeded the call of the residents of the Commonwealth in ensuring that taxpayer-funded benefits are reserved for those who truly need them.

As a result, this mid-year budget makes great strides at reforming Massachusetts’ public assistance programs and includes the following Republican-led reforms:

• Immediate phase-in of photo ID on EBT cards;

• Expedited implementation of an Integrated Eligibility System that cross-checks recipient Social Security numbers with nine specific state and federal databases and 20 additional databases - to the extent that they are available;

• Establishment and use of an automated fingerprinting system for recipient identity verification;

• Termination of benefits when mail communications are returned to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) as undeliverable;

• Mandate that DTA consider the assets and income of a welfare applicant's immigration sponsors; and

• Three year phase-in of an online payment system for, at minimum, rent and utilities.

I urge the House of Representative to pass these innovative measures, and I hope the majority in the Senate will be equally as committed to realizing the resounding effect of meaningful EBT reform."