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House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (left) and Assistant Leader Alex Willette.
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/23/14

Other States Facing Welfare Fines Implementing Reforms

Meanwhile, Maine Dems kill reform, stubbornly defend welfare status quo

AUGUSTA - House Republicans on Wednesday said that other states missing welfare-to-work goals are reforming their welfare systems while majority Democratic politicians in Maine kill popular reform measures.

Maine Republicans in recent days have raised concerns about over $20 million in penalties for 2008-2011 imposed by the federal government for the state's loose welfare system that has resulted in Maine being one of only a handful of states to miss targets for work participation among recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash welfare benefits.

"Liberal politicians have gone on a welfare spending spree, building up a loose welfare system over decades of one-party rule in Augusta, and now we're facing a $20 million day of reckoning," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "The few other states facing these penalties have been taking action to reform their welfare systems while liberal politicians in Augusta just rejected real welfare reform again."

States that missed the "All-Families Rate" for welfare work participation in 2011 included California, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Oregon. States that missed the "Two-Parent Families Rate" included Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Twenty-five states have no families subject to the two-parent rate.

Many of these states made the following changes, according to research provided by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL):

California: Reduced TANF cap from 60 to 48 months in 2011, reduced overall grants, eliminated an exception to the work requirement, and expanded subsidized employment programs. In 2013, implemented three major work participation initiatives.

Michigan: Eliminated certain extensions and exemptions from the work participation requirement, changed asset limits, and prohibited lottery winners from receiving welfare.

Missouri: Enacted a drug screening program in 2011 and restrictions on the use of EBT cards in 2013.

Oregon: In 2013, allowed the department to make certain adjustments to requirements in order to stay within budget. Also modified the program to meet federal requirements, including clarifications on work activities, required screening and assessment.

Rhode Island: Individuals cannot receive benefits for more than 24 months in a 60-month period and are limited to a lifetime total of 48 months.

Two bills originally introduced by Rep. Fredette, rejected on party lines by the Legislative Council, and reintroduced by Governor Paul LePage, would have directly addressed Maine's low work participation rate. The first would have required TANF applicants to apply for three jobs before receiving benefits and the second would have eliminated exceptions to the work participation requirement that have been built into state law on top of federal requirements.

These reforms would have followed welfare reforms enacted by the Republican-controlled 125th Legislature of 2011-2012 and initiatives implemented by the LePage Administration without legislation, such as work assessments and other welfare-to-work initiatives.

"We've done what we can without Democratic support, but there's a long way to go to get Maine's welfare system within national norms and we need the help of our Democratic colleagues to make it happen," added Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton. "Maine's 'anything-goes' welfare system is a major concern for Maine taxpayers, fiscally-minded state lawmakers, and even the Obama Administration—virtually everybody except for liberal politicians in Augusta. We hope that changes soon."

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Contact:
David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793