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Maine Faces $7 Million in Fines for Failing to Meet Welfare Work Requirements

April 17, 2014

For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 17
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced today that Maine faces a $7.1 million penalty because its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program failed to meet work participation rates in 2011. In a letter received Tuesday (see attached below), the Federal Administration for Children and Families detailed Maine’s poor record of requiring TANF recipients to work.

“I submitted bills this session that would have required welfare recipients to look for a job and would have removed Maine’s lenient exemptions that allow them to avoid working,” said Governor LePage. “We simply wanted Maine to conform to federal work participation guidelines for TANF, but liberal politicians rejected our bill. They don’t want people on welfare to have to work, and now Maine is facing millions of dollars in fines for just one year. Without welfare reform, these fines will just keep coming—and Maine taxpayers will foot the bill.”

The TANF program requires welfare recipients to work or be engaged in an approved work-related activity. To avoid fines, Maine needed an overall work participation rate of 47.5 percent and an 87.5 parent rate for two-parent families receiving TANF. In 2011, the overall rate was only 19.1 percent, and the two-parent family rate was a dismal 18.7 percent.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has collaborated with the Maine Department of Labor to assist welfare recipients get a job, and Governor LePage’s bills would have helped Maine achieve higher work participation rates.

LD 1815 required work-ready job applicants to apply for three jobs before receiving benefits. LD 1842 would have eliminated Maine’s extensive list of exemptions to the federal work requirements. While the federal government has three exemptions in its policies, Maine has 13. Liberals in the Legislature rejected the bills along party lines.

“Maine makes it far too easy for welfare recipients to avoid getting the experience they need to get a job, and this is costing millions of wasted taxpayer dollars in federal fines,’’ said Governor LePage. “Our common-sense legislation would have sent a very clear message that if you are on welfare, Maine taxpayers expect you to do all you can to get a job and work. But Democrats would rather let welfare recipients skip out on work.”

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