Officials: Bridge Card Users Spent Taxpayer Money On Vacation

LANSING (WWJ) – These welfare funds are meant to feed needy families, but officials say some Bridge Card users have been caught spending taxpayer money on vacation.

State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge said that this past winter about $2 million in Bridge Card food and cash assistance was spent in Florida, California, Hawaii and Nevada, and on cruise ships.

In Michigan, the Bridge Card debit card has replaced food stamp for those in need of state assistance.

Senator Jones Tuesday announced he is now working with the Michigan Department of Human Services to end Bridge Card abuse.

“It is shocking that taxpayers would foot the bill for welfare recipients to spend money on vacations to other states and even on cruise ships… this must end” Jones said, in a statement.

Currently, Bridge Cards are only available to Michigan residents. Card holders are supposed to notify the state when they have been out of the state for 30 days. Then the card is cut off.

Speaking with WWJ’s Marie Osborne, Jones said there is other potential for abuse.

“Many times, Bridge Cards are sold on the open market and then people get cash, can buy illegal drugs and alcohol and cigarettes. Obviously, that needs to stop,” Jones said.

Jones is also working on another measure — a Senate bill that would prohibit users from using Bridge Cards to withdraw cash from casino ATMs.

“That’s terrible cause all of us that work very hard for the things that we got and the lazy (people) that get our taxpayer money shouldn’t not get it,” commented one Michigander, on WWJ’s Facebook page.

“I have needed the Bridge Card in the past and am saddened to see this abuse. It will ruin this wonderful program to help you out when your at (your) lowest. So sad,” said another.

But another said our state has “bigger fish to fry.”

What do you think? Comment below.

  • James Hynes

    That sort of abuse is unthinkable.Although I’m a Bridge Card client.I only can use it for buying groceries.

  • Newsie

    “Shouldn’t not get it”? Couldn’t you quote someone that actually knew how to form a correct sentence? I guess when you pay your reporters and writers minimum wage, you get minimum ability.

  • Pamela Curtis

    Foof Stamps are a Blessing when other home neccesities are depleting the home budget. The majority of individuals on Food Stamps could not afford a vacation only wishing for such a luxury. Whoever is taking advantage of Food Staps please STOP NOW for the sake of the truly needing in this economic downturn.

  • J. Baldwin

    It would be nice if we could bill them (fat chance getting any of the $$ back) and revoke their Bridge Cards FOR LIFE.

  • James Z

    I’m sure there are some who abuse the program, but you know: is it that hard to imagine someone who is poor, hungry, AND temporarily out of the site in which they live? Is it honestly all that horrible that the poor have the ability to leave the state? There are many legitimate reasons to do so, after all. And, while we’re at it: what’s so awful about the idea of someone poor enough to need food asistance traveling? For all anyone knows, they could be trying to find work – it’s not like there are a ton of jobs in THIS state. Politicians like to bring up these absurd (and EXCEPTIONALLY RARE) scenarios to score an easy point against their pet peeve legislation, because we tend to react instead of THINK when they do so.

  • Jim

    Just because you poop, doesn’t mean you are owed toilet paper. Get off the pot and support yourself!

  • Me

    I guess I must be slow or something…how does a person who is supposed to be needy get to vacation in Hawaii, Florida or Vegas. I’ve been in the work force for some 40 years and cannot afford to take such a vacation, having two kids to support. I think the whole system needs an overhaul to reevaluate those who get this kind of support and how they use it.

  • Herb Helzer

    Let’s consider the source of this manufactured outrage…

    “WWJ’s Marie Osborne” spoke to exactly ONE person — a Republican Senator who WANTS to shine a light on every potential abuse to discredit the Bridge Card program as a whole.

    Sen. Jones is “shocked” that $2 million in Bridge Card transactions may have occurred in other states or on cruise ships “this past winter.” Hell, I’m “shocked” that it’s ONLY $2 million in possible abuse; representing maybe 2% of the total program. That makes this is an EFFICIENT program, not a corrupt one.

    The rules do allow for out-of-state usage for up to 30 days…and “this past winter” means basically Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years’ — when even poor people might want to go visit family. Here, again, it’s the single source — SEN. JONES — who jumps to the conclusion that “welfare recipients” are “on vacations.”

    The only other two “sources” are anonymous Facebook postings, on which no fact-checking can be done. Taken as a whole, there’s nothing here but a Republican going on a typical conservative tirade against “welfare recipients” — code for you-know-which group of people — gaming the system at taxayers’ expense.

    • Erika

      I agree.

  • Sally

    Kind of like being “shocked-shocked” at the abuse of funds given to the banking industry as a blank check with no strings attached. Unfortunately abuse occurs. The answer is to find and punish the abusers, both seller and buyer of the cards, not to punish others who use them honorably.

  • Pat Murphy

    They can use the Bridge Card for bail to get out of jail.

  • Brian

    ask any store clerk about food stamps, how people would buy a 5cent candy to get the real money change to buy cigs or something else they shouldn’t. or they would sell them for cash. It was ludicrous when they changed to the bridge card, and allowed people to withdraw cash with them. they should only be allowed to be used at designated ‘grocery’ stores under strict regulations / guidelines enforced by the stores themselves for FOOD. at least with the stamps they’d end up ‘feeding’ someone even when abused.

  • RSN

    The state of Michigan really needs to addres Bridge Card abuse. I’m tired of watching someone, who has just used a Bridge Card, leave the store and get into their Mercedes and drive away. STEALING tax payer money should be a “big fish”. This is what happens when government makes funds easily available for people to abuse.

  • Patricia

    I’m frankly more concerned with the overpaid state legislature, including Rick Snyder than I am about this, which is probably a pittance of the waste in Michigan state government. Let’s get real. It’s the job of the corporate media to make the poor and working class out to be the culprits in our current economy. But take a look at the stats and you’ll see that Michigan has the SECOND HIGHEST PAID state legislature in the nation. And for what? Years ago they were part-time and we were all better off. I’m sure that for every one person abusing their Bridge card you’ll find 10,000 in dire, dire need.

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