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This week’s edition!

Welfare to Work Works and More Reform Makes it Better

Before we started reforming Maine’s welfare system in 2011, people could stay on “temporary” welfare for as long as they wanted.The rule for eligibility was: “When in doubt, hand it out.”

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

When I became Governor, I knew our welfare system needed to be fixed. We had too many people on the welfare rolls, and there was zero accountability.

We’ve worked with thousands of Mainers to help them become more self-reliant and economically independent. Our administration is willing to provide the time and effort it takes to help fellow Mainers.We have enacted a five-year cap on TANF benefits.But that isn’t the only solution.We now offer welfare recipients the opportunities and support they need to succeed.

In the past year, our welfare-to-work program has provided vocational assessments to more than 2,000 welfare recipients.More than 850 of them have been placed in jobs or work experiences.

Because of our efforts, TANF cases have dropped from 14,804 in 2011 to just 6,191 as of March 2015.

This week, I met two Mainers who have made the successful transition from welfare to work.Their names are Jill and Danielle, and they support these changes to the system.These two women are shining examples of how our welfare system is intended to work.

Welfare is not a way of life. Maine taxpayers cannot afford to pay for bloated welfare programs, nor is it government’s role to do so. But government can take the time and effort to help Mainers through education and training to become financially stable and economically independent.

Liberals think throwing money at the problem will solve it.That has never worked, and it never will.Taking the time to train, educate and mentor our fellow Mainers is the path toward success. Our welfare reforms and innovative programs are providing more Mainers the ability to achieve their American dream.

Our latest welfare reform bill is another step in helping them move from poverty to prosperity.This bill will: Require job-ready welfare applicants to apply for three jobs before receiving benefits; prohibit the use of Maine EBT cards outside our state; ban welfare benefits from being used to buy tobacco, liquor, gambling, lottery tickets, tattoos and bail.We have also strengthened penalties for people who abuse the system.

Some of these initiatives may sound familiar.These changes didn’t go through last year because our liberal friends killed the bills.

However, Mainers have spoken. We have a new Republican majority in the Senate. Mainers want welfare reform, and I hope Democrats listen to them this time. These changes are not going to fix our welfare system entirely. But our reforms will change people’s lives for the better.

Our welfare-to-work program has proven successful for people like Jill and Danielle and thousands of other Mainers. It’s time we listen to the people who have been through the system themselves so we can improve it for everyone.

 

Thank you for listening.

Governor Paul R. LePage

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