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Enough is Enough It’s business as usual for Democrats in Augusta

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

“Democrats said such a rigid standard could cause hardship to people who are willing to repay the money but need emergency assistance before doing so.”

Thus wrote reporter Kevin Miller in his article, “Bipartisan effort targets welfare loopholes” (Portland Press Herald, April 30, 2015).

The statement is the reported response from the Democrat legislators who sit on the Health and Human Services Committee to a piece of welfare reform legislation, LD 722. If someone is caught committing fraud, they are now removed from General Assistance rolls for 120 days and ordered to reimburse the city or town from which they stole.

On the 121st day, those who have abused the system will show up at the General Assistance office and be reinstated, even though they have not made restitution.

The bill, LD 722, would ensure reimbursement is made to the city or town before those who committed fraud could be reinstated on the welfare rolls. Democrats think this is too draconian. They feel that those who abuse welfare should be reinstated, as long as they promise to pay the money back.

Democrats are trying to create legislation that will give those who abuse the welfare system a chance to return, after only 120 days suspension, to the General Assistance rolls without making any restitution. In short, this legislation will not change anything. It will continue to be business as usual.

Enough is enough. Pass the bill in its original form: make welfare abusers pay full restitution or they cannot return to the General Assistance rolls.

This bill, if passed with the Democrats’ changes, does absolutely nothing but give liberal politicians an out on Election Day, when they can point to this toothless bill and claim they voted for welfare reform.

But the real outrage, which is not addressed in this bill, is that those who abuse the welfare system can continue to reapply, commit fraud, then reapply again after their penalty time has expired.

Apparently, many in Augusta still don’t quite get it. They seem to have forgotten – or just don’t care – that this past November election was a call for welfare reform. In Lewiston, these nanny-state policies are slowly killing the city.

While communities in the southern part of the state, which don’t have to deal with these problems, enjoy mil rates in the mid-teens, Lewiston’s mil rate is 27-plus. When they build a new school, it’s done to provide their students with a nicer facility. In Lewiston, new schools are built to accommodate our growing General Assistance population.

Our high mil rate makes it difficult to attract businesses. Our new vibrant downtown, featuring Lewiston’s middle-class and upscale neighborhoods, is overshadowed by a somewhat rundown inner city. But worst of all, our seniors on fixed incomes and our families with school-aged children have been pitted against each other due to increasing budget expenses that are beyond the control of our city councilors and school committee members.

Sadly, things don’t appear to be looking up. Most of the welfare legislation introduced by Senator Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) appears to be going down the drain. Two of these bills, LD 368 and LD 369, would bring Lewiston and Auburn into compliance with federal and state regulations.

It appears the Democrats are still turning to liberal activist organizations that make their living off the poor for their marching orders. Why do they fear these organizations more than the wrath of the voters?

It’s time to call your local state senators and state representatives and ask them the following:

  1. If the federal and state government refuse benefits to undocumented aliens (LD 369) and people reaching their lifetime five-year limitation on welfare benefits (LD 368), why are local taxpayers forced to support them?
  2. Why are the well-heeled communities to our south exempt from having to share in the cost incurred by this financial support?

 

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