Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski) today said he supports a measure that will prohibit spending of cash assistance benefits on cigarettes, alcohol, gambling and strip clubs. The measure passed the Senate yesterday 56-3 and was referred yesterday to the Assembly Committee on Social Services.
The bill would prohibit cash assistance from being used to purchase alcohol, tobacco, or lottery tickets, and would prohibit cash to be withdrawn from ATMs at locations such as liquor stores, casinos or establishments providing adult-oriented entertainment. Barclay said he hopes the Assembly takes this measure up before session adjourns Thursday.
“Obviously, food stamps and cash assistance programs were not created so people could spend money on beer, cigarettes and lotto tickets. This bill would help protect the integrity of the cash assistance program, the families who use it as it was intended, and the taxpayers. Though this would not stop misuse altogether, it would make it more difficult for some to abuse the system,” said Barclay.
According to the bill, a recent report from WNYT in Albany examined records from 11 counties and showed tens of thousands of dollars in cash assistance had been withdrawn from ATMs located at adult entertainment clubs, OTBs, liquor stores and beverage and tobacco retailers.
If signed into law, the measure would bring New York in compliance with federal recommendations. If New York does not change its laws, it risks losing five percent of its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding or $125 million.