UPDATE: Mo. Dept. of Social Services Comments on Food Stamps
JEFFERSON CITY - KOMU 8 attempted on Wednesday to get the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide details on the data the department gave about out-of-state spending on food stamps. Late Wednesday, the department provided a written response, outlining some possible explanations for out-of-state spending, including military families on food stamps stationed outside the state. Other than that explanation, DSS defered other comments to the federal government.
DSS said it closed 3,000 cases of fraud across "a variety of programs" last year.
Still, $46 million of the federally allotted food stamp money for Missouri residents ended up spent out of state -- including more than $40,000 in Hawaii.
DSS still would not offer an on-camera interview Wednesday.
On Tuesday, KOMU sent this inquiry to DSS Communications Director Seth Bundy: "Can we set up an interview tomorrow? It would be great to talk about how the department looks at, identifies, and deals with fraud. I think it would be great to show the taxpayers how much work goes into safeguarding money set aside for families on assistance. Sound like something we could arrange?"
KOMU inquired with Bundy after the initial story on out-of-state food stamp spending reached more than 2000 views and had many Missouri taxpayers asking questions on social media how the money was spent.
"I think the folks over at the Department of Social Services, especially in the Program Integrity Unit know about the details of the data," said Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, chair of the committee charged with appropriating money to DSS.
Bundy's response: "Caught your piece last night. I think I'll pass on the interview. Thanks."
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability held a hearing on SB 474, proposed by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Jackson County, which would require DSS to ask the federal government for permission to place photo identification on Missouri EBT (food stamp) cards. Senator Kraus said the final product would mirror the photo ID found on some bank debit cards.
Some democratic lawmakers worry the measure would cost the state more money.