Maine Senate Approves Another Sweeping Change to It’s State Welfare Assistance Program.
Perhaps it’s all of that “brain food” coming out of lobster rich Maine, that has given state legislators additional insight in how to control welfare-related benefits, when they voted Tuesday to cut the limit on General Assistance benefits from 5-years down to 9-months.
And although the measure passed thanks in part to a Republican majority by a 24-11 vote it will now go to the House where it is expected to face resistance by Democrats who hold the majority. However, Thursday’s defection by some Democrats signals that some in the party may be willing to support restraints on welfare programs, an issue that many Republicans capitalized on during the 2014 gubernatorial and legislative campaigns.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, limits the time period during which recipients who are capable of working and have no dependents can receive General Assistance to 9-months, every 5-years.
General Assistance benefits currently runs a little over $24 million dollars a year and is administered by municipalities and partially funded by the state and localities.
During Thursday’s floor debate, Democrats questioned whether Brakey’s bill was enforceable while lamenting its impact on poor residents. Republicans countered that the current limit for General Assistance can create a disincentive to find work.
Sen. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, said the program was designed to provide a “hand up, not a lifestyle.”
And although the bill may face some resistance, the fact still remains that 4-Democrats joined in supporting the measure perhaps sending a clear message to Washington and to this administration that federal welfare programs, and more than $20 trillion later poverty levels remain largely unchanged, especially on federal welfare programs, doling out more than $1 trillion on 83 means-tested programs, the year’s largest expenditure and a startling 32% increase since President Obama entered the White House. Perhaps those legislators attempting to control spending should send the president a large carton of fresh Main lobsters…it just might help.