From left to right, state Reps. Adam Brown, Pam Roth, Dan Brady and Tom Cross announced the reform package at the Uptown Station on Tuesday. (Photo By Paul Morello/WJBC)
By Paul Morello
NORMAL - Illinois Republicans are proposing a welfare reform package that they say could save the state millions of dollars.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) joined state Reps. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), Adam Brown (R-Champaign), Pam Roth (R-Morris) and Barb Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) at the Uptown Station on Tuesday to announce the plan, which includes adding photos to all LINK cards to help curb fraud.
"There are folks that definitely do need help, whether that's in welfare or Medicaid," said Cross. "We want to be there to make sure we have a system that is viable and can sustain itself but that is not abused."
Another portion of the plan, under House Bill 2784, would prevent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits (TANF) from being used for alcohol, lottery tickets and firearms.
"It's even been reported that these benefits are being used for tattoos and body piercings," Roth said. "We're all about helping people that need help but we want to see these dollars put to good use."
The final portion of the package would prevent criminals already in jail from receiving public aid.
Rep. Adam Brown said the plan could save the state "hundreds of millions of dollars" but didn't specify how much it would cost to upgrade LINK cards and implement the plan.
Brady said the saving in Illinois has to start somewhere.
"We want the people of Illinois to know that the House Republican Caucus is trying to advance this type of common-sense legislation and trying to work on the state's financial problems.
Brady hopes the package will receive bipartisan support when lawmakers return to Springfield next week.
There are about 4.7 million Illinoisans on the state's welfare benefits program.
Paul Morello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.