lepage

Maine’s Governor Paul LePage has been on a crusade to reform his state’s welfare program and reduce resident dependence on government assistance. New numbers indicate that these reforms have been working.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services said that “tougher requirements for welfare along with a drop in unemployment have led to more Mainers supporting themselves.”  The number of the state’s citizens on the food stamp program has plunged to below 200,000, which, according to the governor is “the lowest number of people on taxpayer-funded, welfare food stamps in six years.”

Governor LePage took to Facebook to trumpet the news saying, “According to federal statistics at Federal Nutrition Service (FNS), Maine ranked first in the nation for its reduction in food stamp dependency in 2014.”

This comes on the heels of a push to remove Mainers without dependents from the welfare rolls if they have more than $5,000 including “bank account balances, snowmobiles, boats, motorcycles, jet skis, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles, campers and other valuable assets.”

Governor LePage has insisted that this is a key test to insure that “Welfare is a last resort, not a way of life.”

On Facebook the governor also noted that the drop in unemployment was also a factor in the lower number of food stamp recipients, as “Maine’s unemployment rate has dropped from a recession-high 8.3 percent in July 2009 to 4.5 percent in August 2015, falling a full percentage point since December 2014 alone – just after Governor LePage was re-elected.”

Proof of real success, “Maine ranked first in the nation for its reduction in food stamp dependency in 2014,” according to federal statistics at Federal Nutrition Service (FNS), said the Governor.

And the good news should be getting even better as Maine continues enforcement of the new asset test policy.

States looking for an example of how welfare reform can help lift citizens out of the government poverty trap and up the income ladder, while also trimming the state budget should look to Maine.

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Kristina Ribali is the Senior Coalitions Director for the Foundation for Government Accountability. Follow Kristina on Twitter or reach her via email at [email protected]