Senator Eric Brakey Seeks to Protect Integrity of Maine’s Welfare System

Contact:
Krysta West
Communications Director
Senate Republican Office
(207) 287-1505
krysta.west@legislature.maine.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUSTA – State Senator Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin), a longtime proponent of welfare reform, has introduced legislation to protect the integrity of Maine’s welfare system.

As proposed, LR 551, “An Act To Require That Maine Welfare Benefits Be Used in Maine,” would prohibit recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as TANF, from using an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card to access benefits provided by the taxpayers of Maine from outside of the state.

“Between 2011 to 2015, we spent nearly $65 million welfare dollars on EBT transactions outside of Maine,” said Sen. Brakey. “During that time, Maine taxpayers were on the hook for welfare transactions in every single state, including $3.7 million in Florida $5.2 million in Massachusetts, and over a million dollars in New York and Connecticut. We even sent welfare dollars to the Virgin Islands and Guam.

“According to testimony provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, a significant number of these individuals are accessing their TANF benefits consistently outside of Maine, sometimes for upwards of a year.

“It’s time to ensure that our benefits are going to support needy Maine families, not those who can afford to go on vacations, or even worse, aren’t actually residents of Maine. Allowing this behavior to continue puts the resource at risk for Mainers who properly use and truly need the safety net.

“We in Augusta need to take a serious look at this program to ensure that it’s living up to its mission, which is to enable impoverished Maine families to climb out of poverty.”

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