For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA As a result of a Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request by The Maine Wire, the online news site of the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, data on the use of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) welfare cards was released Tuesday. The information reveals thousands of transactions where taxpayer-funded welfare benefits were used at bars, liquor stores, smoke shops, and other inappropriate venues.
"I am disappointed but not surprised by this information," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "We hear about this kind of welfare fraud and abuse from our neighbors and constituents all the time, but it was always dismissed by many on the left as anecdotal. I would like to think that this will finally convince Democrats to support reforms to our welfare system, but I've thought that too many times before only to see them defend the status quo. I hope that my Democratic colleagues will prove me wrong and join us in enacting commonsense reforms on a bipartisan basis."
Fredette added that this data supports the intentions behind two welfare reform bills he introduced for the upcoming session to bring accountability to cash welfare benefits.
"We've made many improvements to our welfare system under Republican leadership in recent years," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton, "but this data proves that we still have a long way to go. Maine has, pound-for-pound, the second-largest welfare system in the nation and that system has doubled in size over the past 20 years without any change to the poverty rate. The Democrats' insistence on maintaining the status quo is simply not an option."
Maine House Republicans
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