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  • Maine Conservatives Leading the Way on Welfare Reform

    Proving they are serious about mitigating their citizens’ dependence on government welfare programs, conservative members of Maine’s state legislature continue to push the state towards meaningful welfare reform.

    Although some proposed legislation has faced setbacks in committee hearings, members have succeeded in drawing attention to the fiscal and economic challenges posed by the state’s welfare system.

    Maine’s dependence on government programs is amongst the highest in the country. As of 2008, it had the second-highest percentage among states of households receiving food stamps, households with cash public assistance income, Medicaid enrollment, and welfare expenditures.

    State Representative Rich Cebra (R), a sponsor of the recent Act to Enact a 5-Point Welfare Reform Program, noted:

    Right now our system penalizes people who leave welfare and go back to work. We’re holding folks back and it makes no sense. Consequently, we’re now into our second or third generation of a welfare class, and that’s not good for anybody. As a poor state facing huge budget deficits, we simply can’t afford a system that encourages people to stay on welfare.

    Highlights of the plan include tax incentives for employers hiring welfare recipients as well as additional limitations and time limits on the state’s ASPIRE-TANF (Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment-Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program. Additionally, conservative organizations in the state have partnered with Governor Paul LePage to combat welfare fraud.

    This welfare battle comes at a time when national welfare spending is growing at an alarming rate. Means-tested welfare is currently the third most expensive government function, with more money allotted to it than to national defense. Welfare spending—combined state and federal—will total approximately $10.3 trillion in the decade between 2009 and 2018.

    Additionally, the government currently operates over 70 separate welfare programs. The country cannot afford to continue on this path of throwing more money at more and more welfare programs, which, rather than help alleviate poverty, has created government dependence.

    This year marks the 15th anniversary of the 1996 welfare reform, which added work requirements and time limits to the nation’s largest cash assistance welfare program. As a result, millions of families left welfare for jobs. Since that time, however, the successful reforms have been weakened and states have used loopholes to evade work requirements.

    Another reform is needed. The federal government must begin by getting federal spending under control. Welfare programs should link welfare to work, such as in the plan proposed by Representative Jim Jordan (R–OH).

    Furthermore, the government should eliminate marriage penalties in welfare programs and promote marriage in low-income communities, where the unwed birthrate has increased significantly over the last five decades, significantly contributing to the poverty rate.

    Maine is moving forward to ensure that welfare assistance does not mean lifetime government dependence. The federal government should also take action to ensure that anti-poverty programs truly help the poor gain personal independence.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Maine Conservatives Leading the Way on Welfare Reform

    1. Bobbie says:

      people of Maine you are awesome to realize freedom comes with personal responsibilities not government handouts or their coercion! You have more self worth than government democrats wants you to know!

      competition of states should be: who has the most self reliant citizens living free and independent of government dependency!!" that would show the best in American leadership and would open our choices to reside in a state that's not filled with self pity people WE SHOULDN'T BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE TO AFFORD!!

    2. John R says:

      Why not jst end all welfare programs?

    3. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      I lived in Maine under two governors. Independent Angus King, the first independent governor since James Longley, and John Baldacci, who was the last Democratic governor of Maine.

    4. Kinderlynn says:

      why not make it a condition that all welfare recipients must work and go to college as a stipulation to retaining their welfare benefit. It is not fair to give welfare to and not ask that the welfare recipient work as hard as the average person ans go to work and learn a trade so as to limit their future need for welfare

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