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LETTER: Governor's Actions Defy Taxpayers

Tomi Olson, a Republican candidate for state representative in the 24th Middlesex District, writes that Gov. Deval Patrick should enforce a new law.

The following is a Letter to the Editor from Tomi Olson, a Republican candidate for state representative in the 24th Middlesex District.

Massachusetts’ citizens are kind, compassionate, and generous. That is why we provide a safety net for those who are facing financial challenges. In Massachusetts we cover food, rent and health care for those in need, especially for children

However, this generosity should not be abused. Funds intended to help the less fortunate survive, should not be used to purchase body piercings, tattoos, guns, manicures, pedicures, and pornography. Yet these abuses have happened all too often.

In response, the State Legislature, in a bi-partisan effort, passed a carefully crafted series of common-sense reforms that forbids such abuse. This was no hurried reactionary legislation. Quite the contrary, both Democrats and Republicans on Beacon Hill painstakingly hammered out a compromise that all reasonable Legislators could support.

This new law makes it illegal use EBT cards in certain specialty venues including, adult bookstores, gun shops, and jewelry stores. It also bans EBT cards being used to purchase specific items such as guns, jewelry and pornography, from any store that might sell them.

Gov. Patrick signed the package of reforms in to law on July 27. I wish we all could applaud his decision. However we can't. You see the Governor, in a defiant letter he sent to the Legislature, stated that he had no intention of enforcing the ban on purchasing specific items in non-specialty venues.

Patrick chastised the Legislature, stating: “I sign this bill with the understanding and due notice that this administration will not enforce what cannot be enforced with respect to the EBT cards.”

Full enforcement certainly presents challenges. However, the technology of scanners and bar codes make enforcement very possible. Presently the EBT program uses this exact technology to prevent the purchase of non-food items with food stamps. I’m sure with a little effort a similar system can be implemented, ensuring you can't use EBT Cards to purchase pornography either from an adult entertainment center or the local convenient convenience store.

The passage of this law would have provided a deterrent effect. However, the Governor’s publicly stated policy of non-enforcement eliminates the deterrent and only invites abuse. The end result: taxpayer dollars wasted with less money available to help those genuinely in need. Further, here is an example of Republicans and Democrats reaching across the aisle, putting the taxpayers above partisanship.

We must always advocate for those facing financial challenges. That’s the kind of people we are. As your State Representative for 24th Middlesex district, I will relentlessly work with my colleagues, Democrat or Republican, to protect our social safety net.  But I won’t stand for your money being used to purchase guns, jewelry and pornography anywhere!

Tomi Olson

Bill Brouillard July 30, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Perhaps the candidate would be able to supply us with some specifics as opposed to the "all too often" quote of abuses to the EBT card system. The abusers need to be addressed immediately, in my opinion. but the worthy poor do not need to be ground up further to do it. Also, what resources will be provided to pursue the abusers?
End One Party Rule July 31, 2012 at 05:23 AM
The abuses in the EBT system were well documented by the proponents of this legislation. This legislation does absolutely nothing to "grind up" those in genuine need. It simply prohibits the use of EBT cards to purchase items which are luxuries. The same bar code and scanner system which currently prevents any store from accepting food stamps (which are now also accessed through an EBT Card) to buy cigarettes, can be adapted to prevent stores from accepting EBT cards to purchase the restricted items. Will it be fool proof? No.. The EBT card can be used at any ATM. So cash can be withdrawn and used for whatever. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't make the effort to prevent abuse. One last point the phrase worth poor is nothing but empty rhetoric. When you say someone is worthy of something, it means they've done something to earn it. We help the poor who cannot help themselves, because they need our help, charity isn't something you have to earn. It comes from common humanity. No one is innately "entitled" to another man's earnings just because they are in need. Those who are better off, should and do help those in need because they are responding to the natural law written in every man's heart.
Bacon Hill July 31, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Thanks for supporting this great first step in improving the services people in our community need. Continued abuse of the program puts the entire program at risk. It is hard to understand the objection to common sense solutions when a flaw is discovered. That is why we need fresh eyes, like Tomi Olson's on Beacon Hill!
Frankie Lombardo August 01, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Doing nothing does nothing, common sense right? Cracking down on Abuses of the system is best way to protect the system
Bill Brouillard August 01, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Actually Worthy poor. To me means.... Those individuals who cannot make it on their own and need resources provided by their fellow human beings to assist them in getting by and or on track to self maintenance, if possible. They are worthy of our help, They are "entitled" to our support if we believe in shared responsibility for each other. Otherwise their are going to be a lot of starving folks on the streets
John DiMascio August 17, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Bill you can't redefine words. Worthy means they've done something to merit our money. Of course we want to take care of those who are less fortunate. But that doesn't mean they have a right to it or are entitled to it. We do so because of we are a charitable people that recognize the human dignity of each individual person. When necessary, the government should be the last the resort for such charity. But we've dehumanized giving. The government takes our money and then dispenses it to those in need. Except that along the line, much of it gets wasted in an inefficient bureaucracy. We've taken the human contact out of it. Hence we create resentment on the part of the taxpayer and ingratitude and an attitude of entitlement on the part of the recipient. Charity is a beautiful gift to both the giver and the receiver. It begins with family, the extended family, the local community or faith based organization. When and only when there is not local means of support for these people, government should step in. But EBT is charity. And the recipients need to know that is what it is.

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