BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday he would support a requirement that photo identification be placed on Electronic Benefit Transfer Cards used by welfare recipients, but asked lawmakers for a change in the proposal before he could sign it.
The amendment would require the state Department of Transitional Assistance, along with the inspector general and state auditor, to conduct a review after three years of the effectiveness of photo IDS on the EBT cards, which are used much like debit cards by people who receive cash assistance from the state.
Supporters of the photo ID requirement say it would help cut down on fraud and unauthorized use of the cards.
Patrick had previously said he was open to the proposed requirement, but also noted that the administration of former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney had determined when the cards were first introduced in 2004 that a photo identification system would not be cost effective.
Lawmakers who have been pushing for reforms in the EBT system attached the photo ID requirement to a spending bill that covers outstanding costs from the state fiscal year that ended June 30.
Patrick approved most of the provisions in the bill, including more than $55 million in reimbursements for snow and ice removal last winter; $13.6 million for the expense of holding the June 25 special election for the U.S. Senate; and $10 million for summer jobs for at-risk teens. He vetoed $7.3 million of what he called "non-essential" spending.
Lawmakers did not include funding to implement the photo requirement for welfare cards, so Patrick said he would ask the Legislature to set aside $2.5 million in a future spending bill.