Turzai Fights to Rein in Welfare Spending and Fraud

Legislative package aims to help families break cycle of dependency 

The House Republican Welfare Reform Task Force, an arm of the House Republican Policy Committee chaired by Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), today unveiled a multi-faceted legislation package designed to reform the current welfare system in the Commonwealth and implement new policies to help deter fraud. 

“Pennsylvania is in the midst of a welfare that is having a profound impact on those trapped in the cycle of government dependence, our taxpaying families and the state’s economy,” Turzai said.  “We need to root out welfare fraud, get people back to work and control spending.”  

“This legislation is designed to bring accountability back to the administration and DPW, and integrity back to a welfare system that has become more of a handout than a means of assistance,” commented Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin).  Marsico is sponsoring legislation that would make the Office of Inspector General independent from the governor’s office. 

“Because Commonwealth dollars are scarce, it is imperative that money spent on assistance goes to those who need it,” said Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon).  “One way to do that is to eliminate fraud, and ensure that money set aside for our most needy citizens actually reaches them.” 

The Working Families Independence Act (WFIA) penalizes the DPW if it fails to meet the mandatory work requirements set forth by the federal government under Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or the mandatory work requirements of the General Assembly for general assistance recipients.  Failure to meet either work participation requirement would result in a 10 percent reduction in five budgetary line items, which compromise the Department of Public Welfare’s (DPW) administrative budget, of state appropriations for the department. 

“By setting mandatory work requirements and enforcing penalties if those requirements are not met, Pennsylvania will help more individuals move off government assistance and into the workforce. By giving residents a hand-up and allowing them to work toward a better life, they can break the cycle of dependence and be free from the dehumanizing welfare system,” stated Rep. Gordon Denlinger (R-Lancaster), sponsor of legislation regarding the fiscal code. 

This legislation is being introduced after a series of public hearings, held by the House Republican Policy Committee, which revealed how poorly the welfare system in Pennsylvania is being managed.  In the past four years under Gov. Ed Rendell, 360,000 Pennsylvanians have been added to the welfare rolls while spending has increased more than $3 billion, making welfare the single largest expenditure in the state budget. 

“We as a Legislature cannot continue to allow such astronomical increases in the spending of taxpayer’s money, when the Rendell administration and the Department of Public Welfare aren’t doing their part to see that those monies are used properly,” said Rep. Steve Cappelli (R-Lycoming).  Cappelli is sponsoring a bill that would require cash assistance applicants and current recipients to successfully submit to a drug test. 

Reps. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre), Brian Ellis (R-Butler), Glen Grell (R-Cumberland), Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango/Butler), Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), Fred McIlhattan (R-Clarion/Armstrong), Dan Moul (R-Adams), Scott Perry (R-York/Cumberland), Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna), Tom Quigley (R-Montgomery), Kathy Rapp (Warren/Forest/McKean), Dave Reed (R-Indiana), and Douglas Reichley (R-Berks), as well as Turzai, Cappelli, Gingrich, Marsico and Denlinger make up the Welfare Reform Task Force. 

For more information, visit www.pahousegop.com and click on the welfare reform link. 

Rep. Mike Turzai
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(412) 369-2230
Contact:  Tricia Graham
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 260-6296