JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation that prohibits welfare recipients from using such funds at liquor stores, casinos or strip clubs.
The legislation also bars recipients from using cash benefits to buy anything marketed for adults while increasing penalties for people who are convicted of spending benefits improperly. The newly signed law brings Missouri into compliance with federal restrictions on purchases using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families electronic cash benefit cards.
Nixon said Monday the legislation ensures assistance for those in need is provided in a proper manner.
Supporters said the measure would help to prevent fraud and abuse in the welfare system. Critics had said it would create unnecessary restrictions on where people can buy food.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri social service officials have told a House panel the state could save $28 million annually by moving people from welfare programs onto federal disability payments.
The Republican-led committee is investigating a contract that pays Boston-based Public Consulting Group $2,300 for every Missouri resident moved onto disability payments.
Officials with the Department of Social Services told the panel Monday the contracts saves money for the state and assigns people to the appropriate program.
People on welfare are required to engage in job-seeking activities. Committee Chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, of Jefferson City, says people receiving disability payments are unlikely to seek work because it would negatively affect their federal benefits. Barnes called for the hearing in early April.
Schweich released an annual audit Tuesday examining Missouri's use of $12.7 billion of federal funds during the 2012 budget. He raised concerns about $68 million of expenses, mainly through programs run by the Department of Social Services.
As he has in the past, Schweich questioned whether some of Missouri's payments under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program were allowed under federal law. The department has said that they are.
Among other things, the audit also cited improper payments to some child care providers and noted that the state failed to perform annual eligibility verifications for some senior and elderly residents receiving home-based services.
The legislation outlined Monday would also prevent welfare recipients from using their electronic benefit card for sporting events, lottery tickets, amusement parks, zoos or museums.
Repeatedly misusing welfare money would carry a felony charge and prison sentence.
The measure would stop short of preventing welfare recipients from purchasing banned items, because electronic benefits could still be converted into cash.
Republican Sen. Will Kraus, of Lee's Summit, and Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, of University City, are sponsoring the measure.