RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — While the state budget has been tight for years, state Republicans are proposing reforms to welfare they hope can save much-needed tax dollars. They say recent studies show that between four and 10 percent of welfare spending is either wasted or fraudulent.
“Every dollar that we have to spend on fraud and abuse in our welfare system, that takes away from our education, our police, our public safety, our transportation,” Delegate Roxanne Robinson said. “So, those dollars are very valuable.”
Lawmakers are proposing an overhaul that includes requiring able-bodied adults who are unemployed to volunteer or participate in a workforce training program 20 hours per week, crosschecking welfare applicants with lottery winners, lowering the time limit people can benefit from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or TANF, and requiring photographs on electronic bank transfer cards to reduce trafficking and fraud.
“These reforms have been done in other states and they’ve been able to save millions of dollars,” Robinson said. “This is a way to take the taxpayer dollars and give them to the people who really need them.”
“Only one in four families living below the federal poverty limit even get this kind of assistance,” added Michael Cassidy with The Commonwealth Institute.
Critics like Cassidy say the proposals will only create more red tape for low-income families that really need the help.
“Putting targets on low-income working families struggling to get by, find work and put food on the table,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy also questions the timing, saying lawmakers are tackling fraud at a time it doesn’t appear to be a problem.
“The share of families who are getting food assistance who turn out to be ineligible are at an all-time low,” Cassidy said.
He says he believes the proposals could actually cost taxpayers money in the end.