Government & Politics

Kansas lawmakers want to cut off welfare benefits for some lottery winners

A Kansas Lottery billboard in Topeka (Jan. 11, 2016)
A Kansas Lottery billboard in Topeka (Jan. 11, 2016) Associated Press

Kansas Republicans want to cut off welfare benefits for people who win $10,000 or more from the lottery.

The proposal is one of several proposed additions to last year’s welfare reform bill, which established stricter work requirements and placed limits on what welfare recipients could buy with their benefits money.

The bill, which will be introduced in the coming days, would require the Kansas Department for Children and Families to cross-check lists of people receiving cash or food assistance with lottery winners.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, one of the lawmakers who offered the proposal at a news conference Thursday, could not say how many welfare recipients in Kansas had won $10,000 from the lottery – if any – but said the policy is needed to protect taxpayer money and the integrity of the welfare program.

This is very important to protect the taxpayer. Have we heard about it in Kansas? No, not yet. But we do know that it’s happened in other states.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, about proposal to cross-check names of welfare recipients with names of lottery winners

“This is very important to protect the taxpayer,” she said. “Have we heard about it in Kansas? No, not yet. But we do know that it’s happened in other states. And people are outraged when it happens. And it’s very important to us legislators to protect our taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.”

Pilcher-Cook said $10,000 was a high enough threshold that it would indicate a person no longer needs assistance.

Other proposals include verifying the identity of all people living in a household receiving cash, food and child care assistance. Current law requires verification of identity for the person applying for benefits. Another proposal would require a fraud investigation if someone lost their electronic benefits card numerous times.

“If you have a recipient who is continually getting new cards, losing cards, that might make one wonder what’s happening to those cards,” said Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita. “So it’s going to ensure the integrity of our system that we don’t have people using those cards who aren’t intended to use those cards.”

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3

  Comments