AUGUSTA – The administration of Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday released information regarding new welfare reforms and enforcement procedures.
“In the last year, we have added more accountability to the system in a number of ways,” LePage said in his weekly address. “We put photos on EBT cards; we eliminated the unauthorized out-of-state use of [Electronic Benefit Transfer] cards; and we put more resources in our welfare to work programs.”
According to the administration, 14,000 Mainers have voluntarily signed up to have photo identification placed on their EBT cards under an initiative that began in April.
Welfare reforms enacted under the LePage administration also include drug testing for convicted felons, a 5-year lifetime cap on the receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash welfare, and reinstated work requirements for roughly 12,000 working age individuals on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as Food Stamps.
LePage said his administration has significantly stepped up enforcement of regulations prohibiting welfare abuse. According to his address, the administration of Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, only referred two cases of welfare fraud to the Attorney General in 2009, and just 12 in 2010.
“So far this year, we have referred 61 cases to the AG’s Office for criminal prosecution,” said LePage. “Eight have been prosecuted.”
The governor also touted progress the state’s welfare-to-work programs. “In six months, more than 800 TANF recipients have been referred to our worksite program; more than 200 have been placed in work experiences; and another 121 people are now working.”
In January, a Maine Wire investigation found that Maine EBT cards have been used in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as at liquor stores, strip clubs, gambling venues and Disney Land.
Although LePage’s Democratic opponents in the Legislature opposed his welfare reform bills this spring, many are now campaigning for re-election as supportive of his crackdown on welfare abusers.
You can view welfare spending data here.