Maine’s Governor Paul LePage has been at the center of more than his fair share of controversy since taking office, but one area where there seems to be little disagreement is over the fact that he’s been good to his word on cutting the budget. Much to the chagrin of Social Justice Warriors, LePage has made a priority of ensuring that public assistance was only going to those who are actually in need, eliminating a lot of fraud and abuse from the system. One way he did that was by requiring younger, childless, able bodied individuals who are receiving food stamps to either be working a part time job or to put in some time working for the state or getting job training. That single move led to a massive drop in the food stamp roles and significant savings for the taxpayers.
Now he’s moved on to another aspect of the food stamp program which is, at least to me, a bit more puzzling. A new regulation will forbid lottery winners (above a certain level of winnings) from receiving SNAP assistance. (Daily Caller)
Maine has instituted a new rule that bans those who win more than $5,000 a month by gambling or the lottery from getting food stamps benefits, the state announced Tuesday.
Gov. Paul LePage approved the rule as part of a series of strict measures to reduce the state’s dependence on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also called food stamps, in Maine.
“In no way, shape or form should taxpayers be asked to foot the bill for someone who is gambling and winning huge amounts of money,” Maine Department of Health and Human Services commissioner Mary Mayhew said in a statement. “Welfare benefits shouldn’t be used for gambling or lottery, and someone who beats the long odds and ‘wins big’ shouldn’t continue receiving assistance while he or she has that money.”
I suppose the first question which jumped to my mind when I read this story was… lottery winners are collecting food stamps? The SNAP program is not only just a course of last resort for those who have fallen on seriously hard times, but I would imagine that it’s not something most people are particularly proud of to begin with. (I don’t mean there’s shame in getting help when you need it, but people tend to not like to admit that they’ve fallen behind.) This doesn’t apply to someone who hit twenty bucks on a scratch off, but if you landed one of the big cash prizes or some sort of thousand dollars a week for life payouts, would you really continue to go to the store and pay for your purchases with food stamps? I suppose it must be happening or there wouldn’t be a need for the law, but it certainly seems odd.
Still, the Governor seems to be satisfied with not only the need for the law, but with the results. He gave a rather succinct public comment identifying who should or should not be on the SNAP roles.
“Most Mainers would agree that before someone receives taxpayer-funded welfare benefits, they should sell non-essential assets and use their savings,” LePage said when the asset testing rule was approved last fall. “Hardworking Mainers should not come home to see snowmobiles, four-wheelers or Jet Skis in the yards of those who are getting welfare. Welfare is a last resort, not a way of life.”
Nothing much to argue about here. If you are taking in more than $60K per year you are well above the national median in terms of income. You obviously don’t need food stamps at that point. But unlike the previous work requirements which were passed, I’ll be interested to see how much money the state actually saves. Are there really that many lottery winners out there still collecting SNAP benefits?