Questionable welfare spending continues despite new law -

Questionable welfare spending continues despite new law

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By Carlos Otero By Carlos Otero

( – A Desoto couple is suffering after their food stamp allotment was cut in half on November 1.

Donna Martin’s husband makes $8 an hour – not enough to fill the refrigerator. Food stamps filled the gap, but that was until there was a major cut.

“How can a family survive off $112? It’s hard,” Martin said.

Martin doesn’t qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, because they don’t have young kids. Some families receive as much as $1,000 a month.

A previous News 4 Investigates story revealed questionable Missouri TANF withdrawals in faraway places like casinos in Las Vegas and the Virgin Islands. Democrats and Republicans eventually passed a new law after the story aired.

Senator Will Kraus says TANF recipients were told the cards couldn’t be used in casinos, strip clubs or liquor stores.

But they are. From Elite Liquor on Halls Ferry to Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights nearby, and Seventh Street Casino in Kansas City to Buffalo Run Casino in Oklahoma faraway. The problem is back.

It’s news that stings people like Donna Martin.

“There are people out there that need it for food, gas, paying bills,” Martin said. “But they’re going to liquor stores. That makes me very mad when I hear that.”

The new law calls for abusers to pay back the money – something Senator Kraus thinks is the only way the message will sink in.

“As that happens, people will start to follow the law and not use it incorrectly because they know they are going to be forced to repay in,” Senator Kraus said.

It’s not only the user; the responsibility lies with the retailers as well.

The retailers can also be fined, but it’s not to the discretion of the Missouri Department of Social Services. The department sent a letter to local prosecutors who must decide how to enforce the new law, which started August 28.

The Missouri Department of Social Services states it has a process in place and is processing claims against TANF recipients who misuse the cards. Those people will have a right to a hearing before being forced to pay the money back.

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