For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - State Rep. Dianne Tilton has been appointed to the Maine Council on Poverty and Economic Security, which advises the governor and the Legislature on approaches that the state can employ to improve the economic situations of residents who are poor or near poor.
The council, established in 2008, convened for the first time in 2009 and focused on such things as energy security, health care, affordable housing and hunger. The group helps develop short- and long-term strategies to put the agenda into action. The council defines poverty as having family income below the nonfarm official poverty line - for example, less than $22,050 for a family of four.
"I am honored to be named to the council," said Rep. Tilton (R-Harrington), a second-term legislator. "Poverty is a severe and growing problem in some parts of our state where jobs are scarce and incomes are falling. According to the latest Census Bureau information, 28.7 percent of children in Washington County were living in poverty in 2008. The county as a whole had a poverty rate of more than 20 percent. Washington County's poverty rate is twice as high as the rate in York and Cumberland counties and much higher than the statewide rate of 11.4 percent."
The 21-member council includes six legislators and 15 members representing diverse populations, such as one disabled person who has experienced poverty, one representative of children living in poverty, two members of the business community and representatives of economic development agencies.
Under the council's charter, it has seven defined duties, such as identifying the risk factors and underlying causes of poverty; examining the long-term effects of poverty on individuals, their families and their communities; and examining anti-poverty programs to identify inadequacies or gaps in coverage. It also is charged with recommending policy changes geared toward the reduction or elimination of poverty.
"Poverty is a complex issue that people have spent years studying," said Rep. Tilton. "The work the council does is worthwhile, but the fact remains that the best cure for poverty is a good job, and the best route to a good job is good education. I think our new governor's emphasis on education, economic development and job creation is the best approach we can take to reduce poverty and its debilitating impact on individuals, communities and local government. But the most critical ingredient is personal drive and determination to succeed, and no government council can deliver that." ###
Maine House Republicans
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