Seifert questions welfare spending

Why are debit cards issued to some Minnesota welfare recipients being used in Hawaii… or 48 other states for that matter?

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert wants to know the answer, according to a story today from MPR’s Tom Weber.

Seifert says more than 310,000 purchases were made out-of-state, using debit cards that are issued to welfare recipients. Those purchases totaled more than $10 million.

Seifert says he can understand some out-of-state purchases, especially in border states. But he’d like to know, for example, why $3,000 was spent in Hawaii.

“Are we having Minnesota cards mailed to other states?” Seifert asked. “Are people traveling there? Are they selling them? Are they bartering them? What’s going on? And $10 million is not a small amount of money in terms of the state budget, so I think it’s worth looking into and having hearings and finding a way to bring more accountability to these cards.”

Legislative Auditor James Nobles said he will consider whether the allegation requires a special investigation or can be addressed during his office’s annual audit at the Department of Human Services.

Seifert’s message seems clear: If you can afford to travel to Hawaii, you don’t need to be on welfare in Minnesota.

One possibility he didn’t mention: online purchases.

Click on the map Seifert provided to see it in a more readable form.


  • Dan

    I am not educated on the workings of our Welfare system, however it was also noted these transactions were NOT illegal. Are these debit cards free of spending rules or do they work like WIC where the holder needs to spend their dollar on specific items?

  • andi

    this includes online purchases?

    is one prevented from travel simply because they receive benefits? we are not imprisoning poor people within our borders are we?

  • cass

    Perhaps if the Speaker had supported the jobs creation bills offered by Dems people would not have to travel outside Minnesota to find employment?