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State food benefits would end for prisoners under Fain's proposal

Joe Fain’s legislation would require information sharing to ensure tax dollars did not continue going to someone’s public assistance account while they were incarcerated. - Courtesy photo
Joe Fain’s legislation would require information sharing to ensure tax dollars did not continue going to someone’s public assistance account while they were incarcerated.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For the Reporter

State agencies would be better equipped to stop paying state food benefits to people in jail under a proposal from Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) approved Monday by the state Senate.

"Taxpayers must be confident that government is a good steward of their tax dollars," said Fain, who serves as the Senate Majority Floor Leader. "While people in jail are not supposed to receive benefits from the state's Basic Food Program, there was no process for communicating between correctional agencies and the Department of Social and Health Services, who issues payments."

Fain's legislation would require information sharing to ensure tax dollars did not continue going to someone's public assistance account while they were incarcerated.

"As state officials we have a duty to stop waste and ensure people who need help the most are getting it," Fain said. "For every dollar that goes to someone who should not be receiving benefits the state loses the opportunity to provide assistance to those who need it the most."

The need for legislation was brought to Fain's attention last year when he served as a trial prosecutor with the King County Prosecutor's office. The bill would not impact families of inmates and has support from individuals within Washington's social service agency.

The measure was approved by a 34-14 vote and is now sent to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

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