Editor’s note: Earlier this year, CRC published a report, THE $19 MILLION ATM FEE: How Better Banking Services Would Protect Our Public Investment in Families that highlighted the over $19 million in public benefits lost to ATM fees annually in California.
Today, an Op-Ed about a bill introduced by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D- Monterey Bay), the EBT Protection and Empowerment Act, to address this problem appears on the San Jose Mercury News website. It’s co-authored by Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, and Paul Tepper, executive director at the Western Center on Law and Poverty:
How much would you spend to save $19 million a year?
Most aid for CalWORKs and other benefits programs is delivered through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, which looks like a traditional debit card. Currently, the company that contracts with the state to administer the EBT system provides limited access to “in-network” ATMs. However, “out of network” banks and ATMs often collect a withdrawal fee of up to $4 that reduces the recipient’s grant amount. As a result of these charges, about $19 million goes annually to pay bank and ATM fees, rather than to help parents pay for their kids’ needs like co-pays for medicine, school supplies, heating bills, or transportation to work and school.
Read the rest of the Op-Ed here: Paul Tepper and Paulina Gonzalez: How much would you spend to save $19 million a year