Bridge Card Holders Could Face New Rules

By: Katie Kim Email
By: Katie Kim Email

Taxpayer money that's supposed to help feed needy families is being used to make a quick buck instead, says Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

"It's outrageous that this money is being wasted."

Jones tells us $87,000 were pulled by bridge card holders at casino ATMs in a one year timespan.

"There's no excuse that money is supposed to be spent on families and children are being spent at casinos," Jones says.

That's why he fully supports legislation that forbids people on cash assistance to withdraw money from casinos. The Senate already unanimously passed the bill.

But Edward Woods from the Department of Human Services says bridge cards aren't free handouts. People need to apply and fill out a career plan that must include receiving education or obtaining jobs.

Woods says there's no proof the money was actually spent on gambling.

"You could have people who actually work there," says Woods. "You could have people who were just in the area. We cannot say beyond a shadow of a doubt."

He adds the number of people in need of food and cash assistance keeps growing, and that's what lawmakers should be concerned about.

"We have 2.5 million people in need," Woods says. "I mean we really need to stay focused on what's important and not on distractions we can't control."

But taxpayers disagree.

"There's a reason why they got bridge cards. It was to take care of their families. And obviously they're not if they're spending money at casinos," says Lansing resident Avelina Singleton.

"My taxpayer dollars are supposed to go to people who really need it, not people who are wasting it," says Lansing resident Don Swejkoski. "So if they're doing that, let's just take the bridge cards away then."

Rep. Rick Jones introduced a similar bill a few months ago forbidding bridge card holders from buying alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickes. Both bills are still in the House. Jones doesn't expect action on either of them until after the budget deadline and the November election.


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