Maine has become one of eight states that are paving the way for towards welfare reform.
Under the administration of Republican Governor Paul LePage, new rules have been set in place that will affect able bodied adults with no children who are currently not working. These adults will now be required to meet a minimum work or volunteer requirement to become eligible to receive food stamps. Either they must be working for a minimum of twenty hours per week, or volunteer for six hours per week. Those that do not comply with these new rules will be ineligible to receive food stamps in the state of Maine.
The measure has already proven to be effective with a reduction in the number of able bodied childless adults who receive food stamps from 12,000 to about 2,500.
This course of action was designed to create a way out of poverty for those that are receiving food stamps. According to the Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner, Mary Mayhew,
“If you’re on these programs, it means you are living in poverty, and so the more that we can help incentive people on that pathway to employment and self- sufficiency, the better off they’re going to be.”
As the Washington Examiner points out, the work requirement to receive food stamps is not a new thing for the country, in fact, President Bill Clinton enacted the work requirement into his bi- partisan welfare reform policies. It was not until 2009, that President Barack Obama removed that aspect with a provision that was buried in his pork- filled American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, that the work requirement was removed. After he negated the food stamp reform of the Clinton era, Obama made it so that each state could redefine work as things like, “personal journaling,” and “motivational reading.”
Those that are proponents of the bill are pointing to the success of the reform that has dropped the number of adults who are perfectly capable of working, with no children, from the rolls by 80%.
When asked about the reform, Governor Paul LePage said,
“People who are in need deserve a hand up, but we should not be giving able- bodied individuals a handout.”
Maine is being seen by many as a successful example of welfare reform that other states are certain to imitate.