An Illinois legislator has introduced several bills that would crack down on welfare recipients in an effort to eliminate abuse of benefits.
The legislature, sponsored by Republican State Rep. Bill Mitchell, are intended to save state money and protect the welfare system from corruption by requiring recipients to take drug tests and meet work requirements before they can receive food stamp benefits, reports WCIA News.
“We need to pass strong welfare reforms to put a stop to the waste, fraud and abuse in the welfare system,” Mitchell said, according to his office's website. “With 4.7 million Illinoisans on welfare, more than one-third of our citizens are receiving taxpayer-funded benefits. We simply cannot afford to do nothing.”
Mitchell is also calling for legislation to require micro-chipped LINK welfare cards, add a photo ID requirement and ban undocumented immigrants from receiving government assistance.
“Welfare should not be a way of life, nor should it be generational,” the legislator explained. “Big government has institutionalized poverty by massively expanding the welfare state, which is cruel to the people it entraps and further disincentivizes work. We need to protect the safety net for those who have fallen on hard times while at the same time emphasizing personal responsibility and the values that made our country great – an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”
According to Mitchell, the current Illinois welfare system experiences an approximate 10 percent fraud rate, which costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars or more. He said that this money could instead go to state education funding, but the Illinois government's "out of whack" priorities favor the "one [in] three Illinoisans on a program" instead, notes WCIA News.
"That’s hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly as high as a billion dollars, on a statewide level,” Mitchell said, according to his website. "Requiring smart cards for welfare benefits and photo IDs for food stamps would cut way down on fraud and lead to billions in long-term taxpayer savings."