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Politics & Government

Senate Dems Criticize Proposed Restrictions Within State Public Welfare System

Democratic state senators are criticizing a measure aimed at tightening restrictions within the commonwealth’s public welfare system.

The proposal would increase penalties for abusing public benefits.

In also includes an attempt to bring expensive cars under consideration when determining recipients’ eligibility.

Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, ranking Democrat on the chamber’s Appropriations Committee, said he finds it suspect that the issue is being raised during an election year.

"The question is, is there anything really there, or are this red herrings?" he said. "Is this just again, throwing red meat on the fodder, go after welfare folks, go after low-income folks?"

But one of the measure’s sponsors, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, said the imminent budget deficit has forced the issue of making sure benefits are being extended to the neediest Pennsylvanians.

The Jefferson County Republican is not running for re-election this year, nor is the bill’s other prime co-sponsor, Republican Dave Argall of Schuylkill County.