Should the state adopt another system of distributing TANF benefits?

Posted July 19, 2010, at 3:06 p.m.

Lawmakers in Augusta are concerned about recent reports of the abuse in other states of the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Specifically, the state-issued debit cards apparently have been used at liquor stores, for gambling at casinos and even at massage parlors. Those defending issuing debit cards argue that TANF is a cash benefit, and so little control can be maintained over how recipients spend the money. Furthermore, they say anyone receiving the benefit is not getting rich on it, so if they are wasting the money, it will impact their quality of life. Detractors say the

benefit should be structured so it can be used for things like housing and food. Is it possible to control how the benefit is used? How would you structure it?

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