Monday, January 7, 2013

Democrats protecting their base...

Dems bottle up welfare reform bill that would end 'sinful spending' for porn and booze

Democratic state lawmakers, led by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, have blocked welfare-reform legislation that would end “sinful spending” by preventing people receiving government benefits from withdrawing taxpayer-funded cash at jiggle and gin joints, The Post has learned.
The state Senate passed the reform measure last year — and if the Assembly doesn’t act by 2014, New York could lose $120 million in federal funding because of new regulations, officials warned.
“Sheldon Silver decides which bills come up for a vote, so it’s up to the speaker whether he considers this a priority,” explained upstate Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.
“The speaker knows [it’s a Republican bill], and he might choose not to bring it up for a vote. And that’s deplorable,” she continued.
“If you’re using a debit card at a casino or strip club, chances are you are not buying something that is beneficial to your family.”
A spokesman for Silver declined to comment.
The Post yesterday revealed that welfare recipients are using Electronic Benefit Transfer cards to make cash withdrawals at ATMs inside strip joints, porn shops, bars and liquor distributors — even though there were other ATMs nearby that would give them dough.
The reform bill has languished in the Assembly’s Social Services Committee, headed by Michele Titus (D-Queens).
Former Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez — who built a social-services empire in Bushwick — is a senior committee member.
One reform opponent, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D- Manhattan), compared welfare recipients to municipal employees and said the government shouldn’t dictate how the taxpayer-funded checks are spent.
“Last I checked, this is America, and if somebody wants to propose that policemen, firefighters, sanitation workers, state legislators and other people paid with government funds be restricted as to what they use their money for, let them propose it,” Gottfried said.
“I wouldn’t support it.”
Republican lawmakers complained that the Assembly typically doesn’t support welfare-reform bills because its more liberal members think it would “hurt the poor,” said state Sen. Tom Libous (R-Binghamton), who pushed the bill through his chamber.
A single-person household receives a maximum $200 in monthly food stamps plus $158 in cash assistance. A family of four could get as much as $668 in food stamps and $433 in cash.
The food-stamp program prohibits the purchase of booze, tobacco and lottery tickets with an EBT card. But there is no way to track the cash assistance.

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