Transforming Illinois' Welfare System

GOP lawmakers unveil measures to transform welfare in IL
Illinois House Republican lawmakers took steps today that will preserve important benefits for those who need them and eliminate waste and abuse in the state's welfare system.

“The reason we are all here is to make sure that those who need these vital services, receive these vital services,” remarked Rep. Barb Wheeler who joined House Republican Leader Tom Cross and fellow lawmakers Bill Mitchell,  Adam Brown, Dan Brady and  Pam Roth today at press conference to unveil a package of legislation designed to reduce fraud and misuse of the state’s welfare system and shore up the safety-net for individuals and families during difficult times.

The welfare reform package focuses on reducing the fraudulent use of LINK cards (food stamps), the misuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (cash) benefits, and preventing criminals from receiving welfare benefits. The goal of the legislation is to save taxpayer dollars and preserve benefits for those most in need.

Here are highlights of the introduced legislation:
  • House Bill 2784 guarantees that cash assistance benefits are used for the basic needs for which they are intended. TANF benefits are intended to provide financial assistance to help pay for basic needs such as food, shelter, utilities, and other necessary expenses, however under current law a person is free to spend this cash however they feel. The legislation would prevent TANF benefits from being used to purchase alcohol, lottery tickets, firearms, and other specified goods and services.

  • House Bill 3174 and House Bill 2490 would prevent criminals from receiving aid. These bills would suspend public aid and benefits to inmates at State correctional facilities and recipients with outstanding warrants.

  • House Bill 133 ensures that a person using a LINK card is the authorized user. The proposal would require all LINK cards to display a photo of the cardholder to ensure that the person presenting it at the checkout counter is the same person who is entitled to use it. The names of all secondary users will also be placed on the card. Secondary users will be required to show a valid photo id before they can use the card.

These measures will protect against those who are scamming Illinois taxpayers and help secure the viability of programs currently used by one third of Illinois residents. While this intitiative will go a long way in transforming Illinois' welfare system, Illinois has to work harder to keep and attract good paying jobs so we can reduce the need for welfare benefits and makes lives better for Illinois families.