House GOP: Minnesota is a 'welfare magnet'by Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — House Republicans say Minnesota has become a "welfare magnet," and they're calling on fellow lawmakers to change the system.
The proposal would prevent new Minnesota residents from getting welfare benefits greater than those available in their home state for a year.
In a statement, state Sen. Linda Berglin expressed skepticism about that plan. The Minneapolis Democrat said only 1 percent of the state's general funds go toward welfare benefits and that lawmakers should focus on enhancing work programs rather than changing benefit amounts for the state's newest residents.
Another provision would prevent food stamp recipients from using their benefit cards in other states.
During a State Capitol news conference today, House Republican Minority Leader Marty Seifert said the changes would "turn the magnet off."
"I think there are certainly some merits for public assistance for people who need it. But on the flip side, when our money is showing up in 49 other states and people from 49 other states are showing up at our doorstep, there's obviously got to be some accountability brought into it," said Seifert.
According to an analysis released by Seifert last August, more than $10 million worth of out-of-state transactions were made with the electronic cards in 2007.
Seifert says the welfare reform proposal could save the state up to $50 million over the next two years. State lawmakers are trying to solve a projected $4.8 billion budget deficit.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)