Mississippi’s state auditor could get a look at tax returns to verify the income of people enrolled in public assistance programs.

The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday to allow that process.

Supporters said it will help ensure that people are not receiving benefits if they earn too much money.

Critics questioned the timing and said Mississippi is looking for waste in the wrong place.

The debate happened days after Auditor Shad White announced that the former director of the state welfare agency and five other people are facing fraud and embezzlement charges.

The bill must go to the House. (AP)