Ceretto Pushes Bill to Curb Abuse of Welfare Benefits
By Frank Parlato
Assemblyman John Ceretto is sponsoring the bipartisan Public Assistance Integrity Act in the New York State Assembly. The bill is designed to prevent public assistance money from being spent at casinos, liquor stores, tobacco retailers and adult entertainment facilities.
Last year, it passed the Senate 56-3 but the Assembly didn’t act on it. It is being reintroduced this year, with six Democrats and 11 Republican sponsors in the Assembly, including Ceretto, who represents Niagara Falls, Lewiston and Grand Island, and Assemblywoman Jane Corwin who represents Wilson, Porter, Newfane, Lockport and Royalton.
As a result of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, states that don't prohibit welfare money from going towards "sin activities" by 2014 will lose five percent of their federal welfare funding.
Ceretto noted the bill’s intent is to ensure that public funds are used to help families provide the basic necessities for their children, and not spent on non-essential goods.
After all, if a welfare recipient, by his or her own admission, is incompetent to earn money, it is logical to assume they are incompetent to spend money.
If taxes are forcibly extracted from workers to support people who do not work, then it is only fair that the money be spent on essentials, as is the entire philosophy behind welfare is that it serves as a safety net.
It is an insult to working people, struggling themselves to get by, to fund welfare recipients to drink, gamble and get lap dances. If a person wants to enjoy these, stop whining, get a job and go to work.
“The Public Assistance Integrity Act needs to be passed to establish an important safeguard against the abuse of public assistance funds," Ceretto said. "Public assistance is intended to help families pay for basic essentials while they get back on their feet….Taxpayers get ripped off (when) the use of these funds (are) for non-essential purposes"
If the bill becomes law, anyone busted using welfare money for "sin activities" will lose their benefits for a month. A second offense will cost welfare recipients three months of benefits. Strike three will permanently ban a recipient from the program.
Public assistance benefits are typically given through electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards, which function similar to debit cards. As state law currently stands, there are no protections in place to keep people from spending this money on non-essentials and entertainment.
On the federal level, the Public Assistance Protection Act requires states to enact policies that prevent misuse of public assistance money provided through federal programs. The Public Assistance Integrity Act is required to bring New York State law into compliance with federal law.
Liberal lawmakers from New York are often accused of pandering to welfare voters and their families, some of whom think that welfare is an entitlement that taxpayers owe them.
As Thomas Sowell once observed, “One of the consequences of such notions as 'entitlements' is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.”
Despite the fact that federal law requires that states only provide welfare benefits for five years, New York liberals elected to extend that to lifetime benefits, helping to foster generational welfare dependence in New York State.
By becoming the perfect enabler, New York cripples the incentive of people lulled into a lifetime of dependence, when working, having to work, would rescue them from their thralldom that makes them say, "I am too weak to work and support myself."
New York increasingly taxes work and subsidizes non-work.
This bill supported by Ceretto is a step in the right direction.
State Sen. Bill Perkins, a Harlem Democrat, said not allowing people to spend taxpayer money given to them by society on booze and cigarettes is "prejudice."
"It's a prejudice, I think, about poor people that we are seeing represented more than any statistical or study of behavior."
Ten other states have already ruled social services can’t be spent on items from beer to guns.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||