How to Report Welfare Fraud

Welfare was created to help provide the basic needs to residents who need assistance to make ends meet and feed their families.

In Michigan, we provide this aid through bridge cards. Unfortunately this assistance is sometimes abused.

To protect taxpayer dollars and ensure state aid is used as intended, I encourage residents to report suspected fraud and abuse.

Examples of abuses during the past couple of years include a million- dollar jackpot winner who was discovered to still be getting food stamps and the recent conviction of a market owner who paid bridge card holders 50 cents for each dollar spent at his store.

This is in addition to three Flint-area business owners who were charged with fraud for buying bridge cards and using tens of thousands of dollars in food assistance to stock their restaurant and catering operations with supplies.

The Office of Inspector General within the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) investigates all reports of public assistance abuse or fraud by either aid recipients or store owners.

In 2011, the DHS Inspector General’s office found $16.7 million worth of fraud in Michigan public assistance programs, down from $18.6 million in 2010.

If you suspect someone is getting benefits that they are not entitled to, please report it. You can do so by filling out a complaint form available on the DHS website at: www.michigan.gov/dhs. Under “Online Services” is a link to “Report Welfare Fraud.”

Complaints may also be made by calling the Welfare Fraud Hotline at: 1-800-222-8558. We owe it to the Southwest Michigan families who rely on this assistance and to all taxpayers paying the bills to eliminate fraud and abuse of this aid and ensure our limited resources are used appropriately.

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Pure Michigan = $1 Billion in Tourism

A record number of out-of-state visitors were attracted to the state in 2011 as a result of last summer’s Pure Michigan campaign.

According to the state tourism group Travel Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the summer promotion generated 3.2 million trips to Michigan and visitors spent $1 billion at local businesses, paying $70 million in taxes.

The successful, award-winning tourism promotion program has had a direct, measurable effect on boosting tourism in Southwest Michigan.

John Marple, who owns the Old Harbor Inn in South Haven said: “The ads have given my business a boost and have done the same for many hotel owners across the state. Right now, we are gearing up for another season of growth at the inn.”

In addition to supporting our state’s tourism industry and the thousands of Michigan job providers and families who depend on tourism, the program is helping the state budget. For every dollar we invested in Pure Michigan last summer, the state got back almost five dollars in revenue.

The 2011 summer campaign cost $14.3 million and brought back $4.90 in taxes for each dollar spent. The state also recently announced a new advertising partnership with Coca- Cola. Under the partnership, idyllic Michigan scenery will cover Coca-Cola trucks and vending machines at no cost to the state.

I strongly support the Pure Michigan program because it accomplishes three goals at once: helping keep and create jobs, generating more state revenues and improving Michigan’s national image to entrepreneurs considering locating in our state.

The campaign is a productive investment, and I hope its success continues in Southwest Michigan.

Explore Michigan Outdoors with Free DNR Mobile App

Southwest Michigan families have an additional tool to use when planning their outdoor activities this year: the “MI Camping and Recreation Locator” mobile application.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) app makes it easier for residents and out-of-state visitors to get out and enjoy our state’s wonderful natural resources.

I encourage outdoor enthusiasts to take advantage of this app to locate information about our state parks, forest campgrounds, boat launches and other state outdoor activities. It is easy to use and free of charge.

The app allows users to search for state parks, forest campgrounds and boat launches by region, city or proximity. Features include camping, lodging and boating information; maps showing the location of each state park, forest campground and boat launch; distance between you and each recreational opportunity; and touch-to-call phone numbers to easily contact the facilities.

State park and forest information like the size and description of the park, park rules and activities you can find there; and information about boat launches like name and size of a lake, river or pond; facts about the ramp; and number of parking spaces, are all available through the app.

This convenient resource will help residents and tourists to find the best place for them and their families to camp, hike, boat and swim—many of which are right here in Southwest Michigan.

Michigan’s great outdoors offers a variety of activities, and this app will help ensure that everyone has a fun and enjoyable time.

To learn more about the app, go to: http://www.michigan.gov/CampAndRecLocator.

The site includes links for downloading the app.

Proos Urges Southwest Michigan Residents to Vacation Close to Home

WSJM – Radio

By Andrew Green

April 17, 2012

Summer is almost here, and State Senator John proos has some advice for those about to take a vacation — why not make it a staycation? Proos this week urged everyone to look at the recreation opportunities that Michigan has to offer, noting that you’re helping the state’s economy by doing so.

Proos says that there’s plenty to do right in your own backyard, pointing out that those things are easier on the wallet than some trip to another state. Go to Michigan.org for information on recreational opportunities and places of lodging.

Proos Touts Progress Made

Dowagiac Daily News

By John Eby

April 15, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — “While the numbers are few today, the believers are many,” state Sen. John Proos told a dozen people Sunday afternoon at Cass County Tea Party’s third annual Tax Day rally beside the 1899 courthouse. “They couldn’t practice religion or live in a free society,” Proos, who was accompanied by his daughter, Elena, said.

“Our nation became what it is today because it was founded on Christian principles of freedom and a government of, by and for the people. Founders left us with our Constitution, which has withstood the test of time. People you send to represent you need to remember that. The believers need to be reminded. That’s the key today.”

The St. Joseph Republican said Michigan ist on a better track that benefits the futures of children such as his own Elena, Jack and Nora.

“What we do today we leave for them tomorrow, and I don’t want to leave them something worse. When jobs were the question, it was clear we weren’t competitive to keep the ones we already had and weren’t doing enough to attract jobs.

“We were picking winners and losers as a government because we were desperate for jobs to come to Michigan. That’s what it was during eight years of the Granholm administration. We saw the loss of a million jobs.

“When I started as your senator, Cass County was at 11.2 percent unemployment. Today, it’s at 8 percent. We can be better, but it’s improving.” because we looked at the equation and value competitiveness and the employer-employee relationship that is going to make Michigan strong again.”

We’re getting out of the way and letting businesses compete. Those who work hard of their own interest and effort are given the best chance to succeed without impediments by the government. Things are in a much better position than before. Without question, your tax dollars need to be held accountable in Lansing,” such as $2 billion the Department of Corrections consumes, which “cannot stand” because it could otherwise be spent on infrastructure or education. We’re not Doubting Thomases — we’re hopeful for our future and remember our country was founded on freedom from tyranny.”

Mentored Youth Hunting Licenses are Now Available

Hunting and fishing are great Michigan pastimes that help families bond while also fostering a passion for the outdoors in our children and teaching them the importance of preserving and respecting our natural resources.

The Mentored Youth Hunting program is designed to introduce youth under the age of 10 to hunting and fishing, and licenses are now available for the 2012 season.

Under the program, a package license for hunters less than 10 years old cost $7.50 and allow the youth to hunt turkey (spring and fall), deer and small game; trap furbearers; and fish for all species.

I supported creating this program because introducing youths to outdoor activities under the guidance of a mentor offers a unique learning experience. It will help children learn proper safety and ethics and also develop teamwork skills and self-confidence.

Youths must be accompanied by a mentor who must be at least 21 years old, have previous hunting experience and possess a current Michigan hunting license.

There is no limit on the number of children a mentor can have with him or her, but the mentor is responsible for the actions of the youth hunter in the field at all times.

For more information on the Mentored Youth Hunting program, visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s website at: http://www.michigan.gov/mentoredhunting.

I encourage local hunters and families to take advantage of this youth mentorship opportunity and safely share Michigan’s great traditions with the next generation of Southwest Michigan outdoor enthusiasts.

Federal Government Must Act to Maintain Harbors

Properly maintaining a harbor is critical to the port’s economic viability and the financial bottom line of shippers and importers. A lack of dredging in Southwest Michigan harbors is forcing ship operators to carry lighter loads, costing them millions of dollars.

That is why I co-sponsored Senate Resolution 97, calling on the U.S. Congress to ensure funds collected from shippers are used exclusively as intended: to maintain and dredge our nation’s harbors. It has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee for consideration.

Congress established a federal harbor maintenance tax on shippers in 1986 to fund harbor operations and maintenance at U.S. ports.

However, even though the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund has a balance of nearly $6 billion, the critical dredging needs of Great Lakes harbors have not been met.

In fact, despite collecting almost $1.5 billion in maintenance taxes from shippers last year, only $758 million was actually spent to dredge harbors in Michigan and other coastal states.

That is unacceptable.

Sustaining a healthy harbor is important on several fronts: It supports Southwest Michigan jobs in an increasingly global economy, fosters entrepreneurship and protects our state’s great natural resources.

Our shippers have fulfilled their obligations to support harbor maintenance; it is now time for the federal government to do their job.

This resolution will send a message to Washington that their failure to act is hurting our economic recovery and costing us jobs.