Over the past six years, welfare reform has been at the forefront of my agenda as your Governor.
Some of these reforms have required legislation, such as capping TANF at 5 years back in 2011 and prohibiting the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol with welfare last year.
Despite overwhelming public support for welfare reform, many welfare reform bills have failed because of the entitlement mentality in Augusta.
That’s why many of our greatest welfare reform successes have not come from legislation, but from executive action.
Work requirements, asset tests and photo IDs on EBT cards have helped move Mainers from welfare to work and safeguarded the integrity of the system. They have restored confidence in Maine’s welfare system for the taxpayers who pay for it.
In addition, these reforms are helping Mainers become economically independent. Nearly 7,000 able-bodied adults who left the food stamp program increased their wages by more than 110 percent.
Mainers across the political spectrum support these reforms.
Polling during my re-election showed that about 80 percent of Mainers support welfare reform.
Many of the reforms did not require legislation, but were enacted within the authority of the Executive Branch.
They can also be reversed by the next Governor.
That is why it is so important that we make these common-sense reforms permanent in state law. We want Maine to keep moving from poverty to prosperity for our children and grandchildren.
An able-bodied 30-year-old man without kids should not be able to collect food stamps without working, going to school or volunteering in his community.
If Mainers like what we’ve done to fix welfare over the past several years, then I encourage you to call your state senator and state representative. Tell them to support the Governor’s bill to put welfare reform into state law.
This isn’t a Republican or a Democrat bill. There are many traditional Democrat lawmakers, most of them from rural Maine, whose constituents agree with these reforms.
I ask for their support in putting party politics aside and joining me to do the right thing for our state.
Together, we can help Mainers keep moving from welfare to work and from poverty to prosperity.