Georgia residents are having a hard time accessing state payments
September 23, 2022 at 16:53
Some Georgia residents say they're having a hard time accessing and spending $350 payments the state is making to more than 3 million residents who benefit from Medicaid, subsidized child health insurance, food stamps or cash welfare assistance.
Brian Kemp announced the plan to spend up to $1.2 billion in federal COVID-19 aid on the payments in August.
The state started transmitting the money electronically to benefit recipients on Tuesday.
Although the money can be used like a credit or debit card, it can’t be converted into cash or a money order.
It also can’t be used to buy tobacco, vaping products, alcohol, guns, lottery tickets or for gaming, gambling and adult entertainment.
The department warned Thursday that some other merchants also don’t accept virtual card payments.
Others said they could only pay their landlord with a money order, a prohibited transaction under the state's rules.
The top categories for declined transactions so far have been for attempts to buy prohibited items or to convert the card to cash.
Kemp has already given out income tax rebates and used federal COVID-19 aid to make grants to various groups.
He has also proposed spending $2 billion in state surplus next year on property tax rebates and a second round of income tax rebates, if voters reelect him to a second term in November instead of Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.
FORMER GEORGIA CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS SENTENCED FOR ASSAULTING HANDCUFFED INMATE, COVER-UPThe spending has incensed Democrats, who claim Kemp is trying to buy reelection.
Under state law, Kemp controls how billions in federal COVID-19 relief is spent, meaning he can hand out money even as he bashes Democratic President Joe Biden and Abrams for high inflation and spending.