"I pledge to our citizens that I will reintroduce my measure to verify the Massachusetts residency of applicants for state taxpayer funded assistance," said Representative Jim Lyons (R-Andover). "It is unfair for the state bureaucracy to abuse our precious tax dollars like this."
Rep. Lyons was referring to a state auditor's report that non-residents may still be receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded Mass Health benefits, because the Patrick Administration refuses to ask recipients to verify their Massachusetts residency. That auditor's report indicated that this lack of oversight is costing the taxpayers of Massachusetts an increasing share of precious tax resources, because the Mass Health budget has been rising at a rate of 8.7 percent annually. That rate hike far outpaces inflation, economic growth, or the salaries of taxpaying families.
Lyons has been working in the legislature to close this loophole. On April 13th, 2012 Lyons introduced an amendment to the state budget to end this abusive practice. Amendment 572 states the following:
"Self declaration of residency shall not be accepted as a valid form of residency verification for people seeking taxpayer-funded individual benefits from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
The Lyons Amendment will immediately close this residency loophole for Mass Health, Health Safety Net, and other state programs. "My amendment," Lyons emphasized, "protects state taxpayers from out-of-state fraud. It also reserves taxpayer-funded programs for their intended beneficiaries: Residents of Massachusetts."
The state bureaucracy and the Patrick Administration oppose legislative approval of the Lyons Amendment. Despite this bureaucratic opposition, Lyons is committed to fighting for his residency reform amendment. "With this auditor's report providing data to support our proposal," Lyons said, "I intend to re-double my efforts to pass this commonsense residency requirement. What could possibly be more reasonable than to say: If you collect taxpayer funded benefits in our state, then you must be a resident of our Commonwealth.
"This is another example of how the Beacon Hill insiders and the out-of-control bureaucrats oppose commonsense reforms to reduce the waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer funds. It's time to put taxpaying families first, and to put Massachusetts citizens first."