An L.A. Times investigation has put people playing the California welfare system on blast… and subsequently fawked it up for everybody.
The article, released yesterday, showed that CalWorks EBT cards have been used outside of the state of California to pay for vacations, cruises and to withdraw money from casinos. To the tune of $69 Million dollars.
More than $69 million meant to help the needy pay their rent and clothe their children was accessed in 49 other states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam between January 2007 and May 2010, according to data from the California Department of Social Services.
More than $11 million was spent or withdrawn in Las Vegas, about $1 million of that at shops and casino hotels on or within a block or two of the famous strip. The data show $8,968 accessed at the Tropicana and $7,995 at the Venetian and its Grand Canal Shoppes.
The database also shows $16,010 withdrawn from ATMs on 14 cruise ships sailing from locations such as Long Beach, Rio de Janeiro and Beijing. Eight of the ships sail primarily from Miami.
The out-of-state transactions include more than $1.5 million spent or withdrawn in Florida and $387,908 accessed in Hawaii. Wagner said he will not cut off access to the cards in those places.
What makes it funnier, is that the reason these welfare cases are doing so much out of town may be the fact that there’s a limit to what they can do in Cali.
In June, Schwarzenegger ordered Wagner to block access to benefits in California gambling centers after The Times reported that more than half of the state’s licensed casinos and poker rooms were included in the ATM network that accepts the Electronic Benefits Transfer cards that the state issues to welfare recipients.
Unfortunately, if you live in Cali and you’re just now figuring out that your welfare benefits can do so much, the Governator already shut you down… Kind of.
The Schwarzenegger administration is cutting off use of state-issued welfare debit cards at casinos across the country and on cruise ships, following a Times report that the aid cards have been used to spend or withdraw millions of dollars in benefits at popular vacation spots.
There are no rules prohibiting welfare recipients from using their benefits outside of California as long as they get clearance from their county case worker to be absent from the program’s 32-hour-a-week job training requirement.
All this because probably just a handful of people were out of pocket for too long.
County investigators, who state authorities say are responsible for detecting fraud, typically don’t question where the money is spent until transactions on a welfare card show that the recipient has been outside of California for more than 30 days.