Maine welfare cash has been used at two amusement parks in Saco, according to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) data obtained by The Maine Wire pursuant to a Freedom of Access Act request.
The DHHS data shows that money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash welfare program has been accessed at Funtown Splashtown USA and Aquaboggan Water Park, both in Saco.
According to DHHS records, Maine taxpayers footed the bill from $880 worth of welfare cash transactions in 2011 at an address associated with Funtown Splashtown. The transactions occurred in June, July and August of that year.
Welfare cash recipients accessed an additional $260 at Aquaboggan.
As reported exclusively by The Maine Wire, cash welfare transactions under Maine’s TANF program have occurred in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Welfare transactions have also occurred at liquor stores, bars, tobacco shops and strip clubs.
Revelations regarding the extent of welfare abuse in the TANF program will likely contribute to upcoming policy debates, as Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage and legislative Republicans push for welfare reforms.
Republicans are pushing three welfare reform bills all directed at the TANF program.
Two of the bills were originally introduced by House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport), but rejected during a legislative screening session by the Democrat-controlled Legislative Council.
One bill would enact a front-end work-search requirement for TANF applicants, meaning seekers of cash welfare would have to demonstrate that they have applied for at least three jobs before receiving benefits. The other would tighten up exceptions to training and education programs required for TANF recipients.
LePage’ has introduced both of these bills into the current legislative session despite Democratic objections.
The governor has also introduced a third bill aimed at cracking down on the very TANF abuses The Maine Wire has exposed. This bill would place certain geographic restrictions of the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards as well as prevent welfare cash from being spent on prohibited items, such as alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets.
Editor, Maine Wire