BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — The state Legislature has thrown out Governor Deval Patrickâ€™s amendments in the state budget related to EBT card reform. Though Patrick says heâ€™s serious about eradicating welfare fraud, heâ€™s concerned that the accompanying debate can sometimes be demeaning to the poor.
â€śI am concerned that some of the comments from some of the members in the course of the debate were very demeaning,â€ť said Patrick at a news conference Thursday. â€śItâ€™s not necessary for us, I think, to go the extra step to make it seem like there is fault associated with being poor.â€ť
The governorâ€™s amendments ban EBT card purchases at shops that sell items like guns, alcohol and porn. The Legislature prefers to have a banned list of purchasable items instead, which the governor called unenforceable and â€śpolitical grandstanding.â€ť House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) was not amused.
â€śI was a little disappointed I suppose in that statement, except to say that when youâ€™re talking about saving taxpayer money from fraud I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s political grandstanding,â€ť said DeLeo.
The Legislature will now send back their original welfare reform proposals, which include a ban on other items like jewelry, manicures and tattoos.
â€śThe majority party, the minority party, almost unanimous in both branches â€¦rejected his really watering the process down,â€ť said Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield). â€śWeâ€™ve got the technology to combat fraud, we need to do it anywhere and everywhere we can, and so this technology would allow us to do it right down to the item purchased.â€ť
Lawmakers anticipate that the governor will veto their EBT card reform amendments, in which case the Legislature can override his veto and restore what they wrote in the original budget.
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