By A. E. Newman

A recent article in the local for fee Binghamton newspaper attributed to writer A. Borelli declares “Welfare fraud crackdown saved $11M in Broome County.” A line read, “Broome County’s ongoing welfare fraud crackdown netted $11 million in savings during 2013, Executive Debbie Preston announced…” It goes on to say, “The money saved in potential payments for financial assistance comes after the county Security Division’s Case Integrity Unit probed about 10,300 welfare cases last year. Nearly $1.6 million of the total savings last year would have come from taxpayer dollars she said. What? What about the other $9.4 million? Where does that come from? The air? “Some people are struggling to find work,” she said, “these are not the people we’re going after.” Oh really? How do you know the difference, Mrs. Preston? Is it written on their forehead? Why don’t you in fact go after the job seekers and create jobs in the county for them. Wouldn’t that be a better use of your time? In truth the so-called savings is not a savings at all. The fact is if someone does not qualify for benefits … they do not qualify. PERIOD. You can’t put that denial in the savings column. As well, most of the information on the average application for benefits is most likely accurate at the point in time it is written. If it changes later because the household composition changes (as often happens with a transient population) is the applicant denied? Is that then counted as a savings? If so, why? The applicant can come back -6 months later and apply again. If they now qualify because the information they put down is 100% accurate does that so-called “savings” get reversed or, pulled from the savings column altogether? We think not.

In fact, the article goes on to state that out of 10,300 welfare cases last year there were 52 (one half of one percent!) that resulted in criminal charges originating from “front end” detective efforts during the initial application process. What was the adjudicated result? Were all 52 guilty? Were any of them found guilty? Did their “fraud” amount to the $1.9 million in county savings? If all 52 were deemed guilty that would mean that they would each have to have averaged a potential of $36,540 in benefits for 2013. Is that true? Come on! Most people know better! You can’t just make these figures up. That’s not right! You know where the real welfare fraud is. It’s in tax breaks given to the local moneyed families who are so-called developers and “job creators.” That’s where the big money is. Go after them. Don’t give them the tax breaks up front as you and your predecessors all have done for years. Corporate welfare is the big drain! Stop that and we all benefit.

After a brief investigation, The People’s Press found that it cost in salary alone, not including employee benefits, pay increases, and office expenses, at least $275,000 a year to employ the nine person investigative unit whose sole job it is to run down “welfare cheats.” According to the Broome County website in 2012 that unit could only claimed to have recovered $151,000.




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