In a state where nearly half of its population is enrolled in some form of government assistance program, welfare reform is necessary.
That is the message Gov. Paul LePage received from the people of Maine when he was first elected into office in 2011, and that’s exactly what he did.
Now, welfare reform in Maine is facing backlash because of the “welfare cliff,” a factor dissuading those on welfare to re-enter the workforce, work more hours, or take better-paying jobs, in fear of immediately losing their benefits.
The welfare cliff is a pretend ledge that program recipients reach when they make more money than they used to and see a drastic loss of benefits as a result.
L.D. 1268 by Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook addresses the putative cliff by gradually reducing the cut-off threshold for benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Surprisingly, Governor LePage offered a contending bill of his own yesterday, the same day a legislative committee heard Gattine’s proposal.
In Gov. LePage’s plan, the state of Maine would disregard 100 percent of a full-time worker’s gross income for two months and allow them to continue receiving benefits. Then, after the first two months, the level of gross income disregarded reduces to 75 percent through the sixth month, and drops to 50 percent disregarded each month after that.
Gattine’s bill doesn’t involve the full-time work requirements outlined in Governor LePage’s proposal, but it does include the same scaled disregard of income for TANF program recipients.
LePage’s bill shows he’s willing to work with progressives across the aisle, and some have even said they expect to come to a cooperative agreement before the end of this legislative session.
I applaud the bipartisanship in Augusta, it’s truly pleasing to see. However I’m not enthralled with the Governor’s proposal, or anybody’s proposal on this issue for that matter.
Are we really at this point in our state where people don’t want to work because they will lose government assistance? Are we?
The absurdity is remarkable.
Both of these proposals accomplish the goals of welfare-providing a safety net for people who truly need it and helping them get back on their feet and out into the workforce.
But I ask, have the people of Maine truly been tainted with the process of thinking that it’s better to receive free money, money by the government collected from tax-paying citizens, than earn their own living? The truth is, people don’t really act like that.
It’s truly fascinating that legislation needs to be made to address the disincentive to work that welfare programs are putting on Maine’s government assistance program recipients.
That statement is such a paradox, and it’s wherein lies the problem for the state of Maine. The cliff is a myth, and welfare isn’t a strong enough disincentive to work. Mainers don’t want to be on welfare, they want to work and make enough money to make a better life for themselves.
We need to rebound and move away from the era of thinking where government is the answer and the only economic solution for the people of Maine.
Welfare cliff legislation only increases spending to fix a nonexistent issue.
Welfare doesn’t enlighten or employ the people of Maine. Education and opportunity does. Let’s end the welfare debate by providing education and employment opportunities to Maine’s youth to change the course for future generations, instead of creating legislation that tackles the “disincentive” to work that welfare enables.
Foster an economic climate that supports the needs of our state and incentivize those seeking education with the opportunity to help it grow. There’s no real need for welfare cliff legislation. The cliff is an imaginary excuse for those who encourage the saturation and abuse of these programs.
Jacob, it is you that is deluded, that is EXACTLY how people think, they do what is best for them financially. That is how you get generational poverty and dependence, they learn how the system works, what “buttons” to push from friends and the system itself. Next it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that if they increase their income through hard work, they immediately lose more than the income increase. I personally know a family that when she got a raise it put her over a threshold for her section 8 housing allowance. She lost more $ in section 8 assistance than the raise. When that happens people stop working harder. When I was growing up my Dad felt that too much overtime wasn’t worth the effort because as he made more his taxes went up too much… It’s basic human nature. You want more of something, you subsidize it, want less, tax it. Right now we subsidize dependance and tax success. I wonder why the economy is struggling… NOT
This state has been sliding towards Socialism for decades. The goal of the leftist leaders is to make as many voters as possible dependent on the government for everything. Those people will always vote for the leftist candidate. The very system they create is impossible to sustain. As business conditions in America become harder, more jobs go overseas, and the largest productive engine the world has ever seen – America – becomes a nation of a few very rich and the masses as very poor and dependent on government for everything. Many people do not want to live like this, but that is reality. Most of the historic jobs in Maine no longer exist. That is the downside of green energy and other production limiting actions. Sounds good to have wind power, but it is expensive, and the secret to America’s success has been cheap power. It costs more to produce goods in America, so overseas countries get the business. America loses. But it SOUNDS good, so I guess you feel that is good. You are wrong.
Some years ago I read that a Swedish head of household with two dependents and an income of $18,200 would have to earn another $10,000 in gross pay before he had any additional take-home pay. His government payments diminished as the progressive tax rates bit more deeply.
Economics is largely about incentives. Thinking in economic terms, the welfare recipient is behaving rationally by weighing the loss of benefits against the additional earned income from work. So yes, the problem of the “cliff” is real. It’s also one of the reasons that a time limit on benefits makes sense, from an incentives perspective.