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6:31 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Ducey: Food stamp fingerprinting program wasteful

PHOENIX - In preparing his $9.5 billion budget for the coming year, Gov. Doug Ducey did find at least one state program that probably wasn't worth the cost: fingerprinting applicants for food stamps and welfare.

Arizona imposed the requirement years ago as part of what had been a national trend aimed at preventing fraud. The idea was to ensure that applicants weren't applying under different names.

But Ducey, in his budget message, told lawmakers it's really duplicative of other things the state already does, ranging from verifying Social Security numbers to checking addresses.

That's not to say that fingerprinting hasn't found fraud: Ducey said that out of 1.1 million applications, the state turned up 10 duplicate applications.

Only thing is, denying benefits - mostly paid for by the federal government - to each those 10 people cost the state $85,620.

The governor said Arizona is the only state that uses taxpayer dollars to subsidize the fingerprint requirement for the federal programs. Every other state has since dropped the requirement.

If approved by the Legislature, the move cuts $856,200 from the budget.