Cutler Heads Effort to Clean Up Welfare System
4/6/2011

With welfare remaining the number one state expenditure, Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) today joined other House Republicans to unveil the “WelFAIR” package aimed at returning fairness, accountability, integrity and responsibility to the system. 

“When people pay their taxes, they have the right to expect that public money is being used for its intended purpose, which in the case of welfare is helping the truly needy,” said Cutler.  “This legislation is not about taking assistance away from underprivileged individuals, but it is about holding the government responsible for properly administering funds and making recipients accountable for accepting taxpayer dollars.” 

Cutler, along with Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon), is a co-leader of the Welfare Policy Development Team, which worked with the House Majority Policy Committee to draft legislation aimed at reducing welfare fraud.  The following bills are included in the WelFAIR package: 

  • House Bill 1297, authored by Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), would institute drug testing for applicants convicted of a drug felony within the past five years.
  • House Bill 1251, authored by Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), would increase penalties for welfare fraud.
  • House Bill 1254, authored by Rep. Mike Reese (R-Fayette/Westmoreland), would prohibit the purchase of tobacco products with Access cards.
  • House Bill 1261, authored by Rep. Tom Quigley (R-Montgomery), would prohibit applicants from benefits shopping for higher assistance amounts in neighboring counties by basing benefit amounts on the permanent legal residence of applicants.
  • House Bill 392, authored by Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin/Cumberland), would require photo identification on welfare benefit cards.
  • House Bill 960, authored by Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon), would create an Income Eligibility Verification System.
  • House Bill 1301, authored by Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong), would implement new guidelines and restrictions on the existing Medical Assistance Transportation Program.
  • House Bill 1312, authored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), would assist people in moving from welfare to work with job transition loans, rather than the current grant program. 

Cutler noted that none of the bills in the package create undue burden on recipients of welfare benefits, but the goal of the package is to ensure that benefits are directed at those individuals who genuinely meet eligibility requirements. 

“We are not asking anyone to go above and beyond what any person who is working would be required to do to maintain employment,” said Cutler.  “These are exactly the types of reforms citizens have been calling for because they deserve to know their hard-earned dollars are not leeching from a system fraught with fraud and abuse.  Pennsylvania citizens deserve a Department of Public Welfare that is administered with the same efficiencies we expect in other Commonwealth agencies and departments.” 

During budget hearings, Auditor General Jack Wagner (D-Allegheny) testified about millions of dollars in welfare funding being lost to fraud due to a lack of oversight into many programs.  Wagner’s testimony and suggestions were valuable in crafting the WelFAIR proposals. 

House Bills 960, 1251, 1254 and 1261 advanced from the House Health Committee this week and are expected to be considered on the floor in the near future. 

More information about the WelFAIR package is available at RepCutler.com or Facebook.com/RepBryanCutler.   

State Representative Bryan Cutler
100th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Nicole Wamsley
nwamsley@pahousegop.com
717.783.8063
Twitter.com/RepBryanCutler

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