ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Some New York lawmakers are pushing to prohibit using cash welfare benefits to pay for tobacco, alcohol, strip clubs and illegal drugs.
Senate Republicans behind the bill say the state must act before February or lose $125 million in federal aid.
Republican Sen. Thomas Libous says Tuesday the bill will make such spending illegal in New York for the first time.
He says retail store receipts show social services debit cards have been used for the purchases and police reports have shown the cash was used in drug deals.
Republicans speculate the abuse could be widespread, pointing to $4 million a month in cash withdrawals made from automatic teller machines between midnight and 6 a.m.
The Cuomo administration has been exploring ways to restrict the purchases.
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