The Stop The Scam welfare reform bill introduced by Alaska Senator Pete Kelly which reigns in welfare fraud and abuse in America’s largest state has passed both houses of the State Legislature and is awaiting the signature of Governor Bill Walker.
Fraud and abuse in state welfare programs costs taxpayers billions every year and robs limited resources from the truly vulnerable who need temporary, targeted help. In fact, as much as 25 percent of states’ welfare spending has been found to be either wasted or fraudulent.
Alaska spends nearly one billion dollars a year on welfare, and losing tens of millions of dollars to fraud is unacceptable and unsustainable. Every dollar wasted or stolen is a dollar that can’t be used to help someone who is truly in need or go toward other critical areas like K-12 education, emergency services, and infrastructure spending. That’s where Stop The Scam comes in.
Stop The Scam is an initiative of the Foundation for Government Accountability that compiles best practices from around the country to help states combat fraud in their welfare programs. The Stop The Scam solution embraces advances in technology and e-verify software to allow states to verify whether applicants are truly eligible for welfare benefits, monitor enrollees to make sure they are still eligible for benefits, and prosecute the fraudsters who steal from taxpayers.
Enhanced data-matching technology checks federal, state and commercial databases to confirm income, residency, identity, employment, citizenship status and more. Regular and automatic reviews of current welfare rolls are screened against updates to databases to ensure welfare recipients are still eligible. From there, we can publicly prosecute individuals who knowingly abuse the welfare system to recover lost benefits, deter future abuse, and change the culture of the welfare program.
Stop The Scam has produced proven results. In one year alone, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania saved over $1.3 billion combined by using Stop The Scam methods. If every state adopted these practices, the total savings to taxpayers could be up to $8 billion annually.
Sen. Kelly’s bill can help eliminate this burdensome, completely unnecessary drain on Alaska’s budget. He was supported by a bi-partisan group of co-sponsors for SB 74, including Senators Cathy Giessel, Peter Micciche, Click Bishop, Anna MacKinnon, Lyman Hoffman, Mia Costello, Lesil McGuire, Bert Stedman, Gary Stevens, John Coghill, Dennis Egan, and Kevin Meyer, as well as Representatives Kurt Olson and Dan Saddler.