Massachusetts electronic benefit transfer cards don’t work for purchasing alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling chips, vacations, jewelry, and other luxuries. A welfare reform bill approved by the state Senate would add stereos, TVs, and video games to the list. There’s a slippery slope here that may one day lead to EBT recipients being eligible for virtually nothing but fresh, Massachusetts-grown produce. But if adding to the list of banned items is necessary to maintain public support for helping the poor, so be it.
Thankfully, the Senate bill does more, and includes some provisions that might actually help EBT recipients get jobs. According to the State House News Service, the legislation sets up a job-match program for the “able-bodied” before they start receiving benefits; tries to find jobs for those already receiving benefits; and provides tax credits of up to $100 per month to employers who hire such individuals.
The governor and some House members may well find the extra restrictions on EBT cards to be patronizing, but they should keep their eyes on the larger goal — increased opportunities for struggling workers to find jobs.