Illinois House Republicans are proposing measures to make sure public aid benefits aren’t misspent. House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) joined members of his caucus in Normal to announce the plan, which includes adding photos to all LINK cards to curb fraud. “There are folks that definitely do need help, whether that’s in welfare or Medicaid,” said Cross. “We want to be there to make sure we have a system that is viable and can sustain itself but that is not abused.”
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Another portion of the plan, under H.B. 2784, would prevent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits (TANF) from being used for alcohol, lottery tickets and firearms. “It’s even been reported that these benefits are being used for tattoos and body piercings,” State Rep. Pam Roth (R-Morris) said. “We’re all about helping people that need help but we want to see these dollars put to good use.”
The final portion of the package would prevent criminals already in jail from receiving public aid. State Rep, Adam Brown (R-Decatur) said the plan could save the state “hundreds of millions of dollars” but didn’t specify how much it would cost to upgrade LINK cards and implement the plan.
State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said the saving in Illinois has to start somewhere. “We want the people of Illinois to know that the House Republican Caucus is trying to advance this type of common-sense legislation and trying to work on the state's financial problems,” he said. Brady hopes the package will receive bipartisan support when the House returns to Springfield next week.
There are about 4.7 million Illinoisans receiving benefits of some sort.