Protect the Poor, Not Lotto Winners

Jamie Frankford won $330,000 in the Pennsylvania lottery in 2012, yet continued to collect child care subsidies and Medicaid benefits. Her story, reported by Chris Papst at CBS21, caught the attention of Fox News and created momentum for legislation sponsored by Rep. Adam Harris. HB 1489 would ensure lottery winners who strike it big can’t gobble up taxpayer resources intended for the truly needy.

The bill requires the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to determine whether the winnings of a beneficiary disqualify them for public assistance. In addition, the Department of Revenue would screen winners to check for back taxes or unpaid child support payments. The law applies to lottery winnings of $2,500 or more and the departments can charge a collection fee.

This commonsense measure won unanimous support in the House Finance Committee and now goes before the entire House. With more budget troubles on the horizon and a pension crisis, welfare benefits must be protected for the truly needy.