From Washington Examiner
Maine has turned some of conservatives’ boldest ideas about welfare into reality, and the state is ready to proclaim it a success for the rest of the country to emulate.
The state’s governor, the outspoken conservative Paul LePage, ran on a promise to reform welfare in 2010 and 2014, targeting abuse of and dependency on government programs.
In fall 2014, LePage followed through by instituting new work rules for food-stamp recipients. Able-bodied adults without children would be required to work at least part time, participate in job-training programs or volunteer to receive food stamp benefits.
The result has been dramatic: The number of healthy adults without dependents receiving food stamps fell by more than 90 percent over the last year, from 13,589 to 1,206 through mid-November.
In the eyes of Maine’s conservative reformers, that drop constitutes a success.
“We have to make sure that our focus is on food stamps and other welfare programs being a last resort, not a way of life, and that we’re promoting employment,” said Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Most former beneficiaries got jobs or determined that it wasn’t worth meeting the requirements for food stamps, Mayhew suggested, although she said the state isn’t yet able to monitor those outcomes closely.
The point was to promote the self-sufficiency that comes with work and to change the culture of the department and state, she said.
Maine is “an example of how a work requirement promotes work and self-sufficiency over welfare,” said Rachel Sheffield, a poverty analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. “You don’t want to cut anybody off,” Sheffield said, noting that assistance is available for people who want to work. Read More