BOSTON (WWLP) - State lawmakers are proposing a bill that creates an online payment system for EBT cash recipients. The bill's lead sponsor state Representative Shaunna O'Connell (R-Taunton) says it's convenient for recipients and beneficial to the state.
"You can use your phone or computer and it will enable us to track expenditures so that we know people are paying their bills, they're paying them on time," said O'Connell.
The legislation follows reports from the state auditor and inspector general that have uncovered millions of dollars in welfare fraud. It allows the state to take over a recipient's benefits – if they're being misused – to pay for the recipient's rent and utilities. It also strengthens identity verification requirements for welfare applicants.
"Do not let people in fraudulently in the first place so that we're not chasing after the fraud but we're stopping it from even getting in the door," said O'Connell.
The Taunton Republican said Florida has implemented a similar system and estimates it will cost Massachusetts nearly $3 million dollars. But the state Legislature's Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Senate Chairman Michael Barrett (D-Lexington) doubts those estimates.
"The proposed bills oversimplify the process and probably understate the cost," said Barrett.
The Committee Chairman said this legislation would not be able to track out-of-state purchases and that the state is lacking in resources to fully implement it.