Louisiana Treasurer John N. Kennedy wants the Louisiana state government to work on reducing welfare fraud, particularly within the food stamp system.

"Americans are the most compassionate people in the world," Kennedy explained to KEEL Morning News. "We help our neighbors. Since 1964, the American taxpayers have spent $21 trillion on the war on poverty."

Here in Louisiana alone, the state government pays $1.5 billion in food stamps, up from $836 million in 2008. Enrollment has increased since 2008 as well, from 650,000 recipients to 900,000 people. Just as a frame of reference, there are about 4.5 million Louisiana residents meaning that 20% of the state's population is receiving food stamps.

"This generosity is obviously expensive," described Kennedy.

And what makes the whole program even more expensive are those who shouldn't be on the system using the system.

Kennedy gave a few examples of ineligible food stamp beneficiaries, all according to a May 2013 auditor's report:

  • Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) gave $750,000 in food stamps to 322 people earning more than $50,000 a year in 2012.
  • DCFS gave $1.1 million in food stamps to 1761 people who are in jail in 2011 and 2012.
  • DCFS gave $107,864 in food stamps to 84 convicted drug felons in 2011 and 2012.
The treasurer also gave examples where Louisiana beneficiaries were double-dipping in other states or were using the majority of their benefits in another state, suggesting that those people don't live in Louisiana.

"If we believe as Christ told us that we should help our neighbors, then both liberals and conservatives should support the proposition that anybody that lies to access social programs that they don't qualify for should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Kennedy said.

And right now, Kennedy said there is nothing being done to prosecute the violators or prevent others from defrauding the system.

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