Maine ranks as second highest welfare state in the nation

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Joined: 08/05/2003 - 12:01am
Maine ranks as second highest welfare state in the nation

The Biggest US Welfare States

As the recession grinds on and people run out of unemployment benefits, the last safety net is the government's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. ...snip...

To get an idea of which states pay out the most welfare checks, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) surveyed state governments.

CNBC slide show

Traci G
Joined: 10/16/2007 - 6:27pm
Maine legislatures that

Maine legislatures that fought against any restrictions on welfare.....especially common sense ones, like residency requirements, and limits on the length of time one can be on welfare, should be real proud. WAY TO GO!!!!!

Moving Forward
Joined: 12/27/2005 - 7:35pm
Yes indeed, I'm sure Governor

Yes indeed, I'm sure Governor Baldacci and his fellow liberal democrats are quite proud of this accomplishment.

Joined: 12/05/2008 - 3:13pm
I'm looking forward to

I'm looking forward to talking about this on air with Emily Cain if not this week than next....interestingly enough, I asked for the "welcome pack" that folks get when the first go to sign up for TANF last week. In the packet is a brochure that is a summary of the program, the benefits and the person's requirements.

There are 7 tabs on the 7 is called "TIME LIMIT"

The first sentence states: "Federal law limits TANF benefits to 5 years or 60 months for each family...Here in Maine, if you have followed all the program rules, you may receive benefits after 5 years"

The first thing that folks receive is a list of the "rules" - which are essentially outlining how to stay in the program and what the monetary value of each benefit is (incentives to follow the rules). Then we share that even though Federal Law says there is a five year limit, as long as you follow the rules we've outlined, you'll continue to get benefits.

Here's another interesting note: TANF benefits are subsidized by matching Federal Funds (I've been told 2 fed to every state dollar but I cannot seem to find anyone who can provide me a documents outlining that).

At the conclusion of 5 years, Federal funding stops and if one "follows the rules" the benefits they receive have no matching dollars from the Fed and become 100% Maine bucks.

I also have a request to have a few questions regarding numbers answered and I have yet to get a response.

I'm hoping more to come.

Traci G
Joined: 10/16/2007 - 6:27pm
Maine is also one of a few

Maine is also one of a few states where a person can be convicted of a drug felony and still receive benefits. I had several drug felons from out of state on my case load, who came to bangor on a bus, went to the homesless shelter, were put at the front of the line for section 8 housing, were relocated to Millinocket, used general assistance until all their benefits came through, and were then followed by friends and relatives from out of state who used the same process to jump to the front of the line for section 8 housing. Alot of these people receive services that they can only get in Bangor or Lincoln so they also put a strain on Project Ride, they cant afford heat so they get heating assistance, and know when and where the area food banks are open and car pool around to visit them all.

Maine housing authorities will still not rent to people convicted of a drug crime, but that just puts the felons in neighborhoods with a section 8 voucher.

nice program. We cant attract business to Maine but we can attract proffesional welfare recipients who for several reasons can not get welfare in their home states, be it length of time or drug felony. Is that really the type of population we want to be attracting???

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Let us also not forget the

Let us also not forget the folks being sent here from other states due to their enormously high medical requirements. I've seen it firsthand. Social service workers in other states pay for their busfare and give them $20 for expenses, and tell them exactly where to go once they reach Portland or another major service city in Maine.

Michelle Anderson
Joined: 11/03/2003 - 1:01am
Quote:The first sentence

[quote]The first sentence states: "Federal law limits TANF benefits to 5 years or 60 months for each family...Here in Maine, if you have followed all the program rules, you may receive benefits after 5 years"

I have been talking, then railing, and finally begging the people of Maine and the legislators here to do something about this huge welcome mat for more than 4 years now.

I know I've repeated this over and over and over here on AMG, but here I go again: The fact that we do not honor the cap on federal time limits means that after 60 months -- when we are giving those on welfare benefits only one other state will give them after that time limit -- the state of Maine is on its own as far as payment.

The federal government does not give us anything for these people. It all -- 100% of it -- comes from the pockets of the taxpayers in the state of Maine.

So here it is: Being that we are one of only two states which offer this bangup benefit after 60 months, when a welfare recipient in New Jersey or Oklahoma, or any other state decides that they want to be a career welfare recipient, he or she mush make up their mind which of the two states they need to move to. ONE OF TWO STATES!

So we end up with a huge influx of career ne-er-do-wells. Not the people who are on welfare as a stopgap or a temporary help. Keep in mind that there are waivers for people who are truly incapable or in too deep to crawl out after 60 months, so these people are those who, for the most part, these are the crème de la crème: those who want to remain on welfare for longer than 5 years.

And we shoulder that burden alone.

No wonder taxpayers are streaming out of Maine.

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
According to Kennebunk Rep.

According to Kennebunk Rep. Gary Connor (D), there are only approx. two families in Maine who have been on welfare longer than five years. At least that's what he wrote to me, back in April (see below for an extract of the email).

Whether this is true now or not, I couldn't say. Perhaps when he has time, he'd join AMG and chime in.

He stated that he was on the HHS committee last year that voted ought not to pass on LD 254, and when I inquired as to why, here's what he sent me:


The residency is a US constitutional issue. Now, if we applied to all, we could get around the unconstitutionality issue, but that also means that if tomorrow, some crisis occurred for you or me that we would not be eligible for benefits for 90 days. As much as Rep. Cebra.. feels that people “are coming to Maine only for our fat benefits” I do not think the statistics reflect that. We show more leaving than entering…

On the second point, I think the “average stay” is 23 months (I am going totally from memory, so I may need to check and confirm)- and we’ve had 2 families stay on for more than 5 years (again from memory)… While do not know the specifics of these families, the big picture is that these 2 families are not “draining the system dry”- I fully support getting folks working (need jobs for that), but we also need to think about childcare coverage and other barriers to getting folks working.

One area that absolutely needs to addressed is “the cliff."

The scenario goes like this. Susie (a 23 year old poorly educated mother of 2) works 24hrs a week at McDonalds. She works hard and is identified as a good candidate to be Night Manager. It will be a 30 hr position, and benefits are not included. Right now, at her job, she qualifies for TANF (helps with childcare coverage) and MaineCare (medical coverage). If she takes the new job, her income will be too high for her “state benefits” meaning she’ll work more, make less and loose health coverage. Smartly, she turns down the job.

What I would like to do is say “great” you are making $225 more per month. We are going to take $100/month and you keep your benefits and $125/month. The laws right now do not allow for that. Make 1 penny over the eligibility amount and you are out. And by-the-way, if you loose that job, you go on a waiting list to get the previous benefits back.

The 5-point plan (and how Richard and others present it) see below – (Two years ago I was a co-sponsor on an identical bill. That effort got the discussion started but fell short because the majority party circled the wagons to protect the bloated government that they’ve created. They believe government can and should be all things to all people forever. Any attempt to slow down the growth of their huge bureaucracy is met with agonizing cries of doom and a heavy-handed blow to the hardworking taxpayers of Maine.) is meant (in my opinion) to drive a wedge between us and create teams- “Liberal pansies” and “Smart, thinking always of only our best interests- Republicans” … Folks like Peter Mills and myself are (I think) open to sitting down together and find solutions. Almost every successful bill I have done has been a unanimous committee report (D & R- including one today that Cebra voted for on transportation) without any fanfare. I work quietly for results not loudly to get nothing.

This year, I helped to found the “Moderate” caucus, which for the first time in recent history includes both Democrats and Republicans- we meet weekly.

I know you have a strong voice out there, if you could use that power to get them to dial down rhetoric and work with those of us that don’t dial up the rhetoric on our side, I think we could accomplish a lot.


Gary Connor

Solitary Path
Joined: 04/08/2009 - 9:35pm
2. Maine % of pop. on

2. Maine
% of pop. on assistance: 2.37%
2007 spending: $61.73 million
Total recipients (July 2008): 31,148
% Change in past 12 months: 5.3%
Unemployment (May 2009): 8.3%

We beat out Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Yay us!

Joined: 05/04/2005 - 12:01am
Let me figure out the AMG

Let me figure out the AMG blogger logic. Don't allow women to get an abortion. The woman must have the child. Don't let poor mothers without education receive government assistance. They have to go to work. But who will pay for child care?
Women should be stay at home Moms. But don't pay government assistance to poor mothers who are stay at home moms. Make them go to work, even if they have disabilities. AMG logic. What a bunch of hypocrites.

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
As for myself, what I say is

As for myself, what I say is "everything within reason."

Right now, what we have AIN'T REASON, and it sure as heck ain't reasonable.

Bruce Libby
Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
deadbeat, there is no logic

deadbeat, there is no logic in the system at present period. There is no way to get any handle on it under the present situation. I deal with criminals I deal with children of ex inmates who were raised on it got it as an adult and have children that will do the same. The system is broken, all requirements are working against eachother ,penalties etc. are not working.
Your assigning a label of hypocrites does nothing.

The answer begins to be found in this understanding:
"it is not we don't want to, we cannot afford to do it this way"!

p.s. the argument about/against it attracting people to Maine is as far as I am concerned true.

Fondly remember an inmate on a collect call home from Windham " hey come to Lewiston the rents cheap welfare great bring some dope " !

The myth is we can't do anything about it ! Your great society has created a dysfunctional dependency class
that is as brazen and bold as it gets with the advoctes to go along with it !

Michelle Anderson
Joined: 11/03/2003 - 1:01am
I believe we would do well to

I believe we would do well to go back to a place where government is not responsible for people in need and go back to churches, charities, and individuals taking care of such things.

It worked for hundreds of years, and there if government got their inept and bloated noses out of the tent, citizens could go back to giving more to charity with the tax money saved.

Of course, that would entail a realization that government does not help the problem, and I don't think the loony left is ready for that admission yet.

The Distributist
Joined: 05/15/2005 - 12:01am
Following is an excerpt from

Following is an excerpt from the 8th Grade American History book used at the private school our youngest son attends here on Maine's Mid Coast; the following end-of-chapter summary is Understanding the Depression Years:

The Federal Reserve also contributed to the confusion by mishandling the money supply... Despite these hardships, families, churches, and private charities met the needs of the unemployed. Most people still had food, clothing, and shelter, and many even had money for entertainment.

But liberal politicians called for government relief and job programs. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal program laid the foundation for a social welfare state by making more and more people dependent on the government. Government agencies and regulations slowly began to control the economy and handicap private business.

It's a great school! Quite a contrasting education from the much more expensive and socially dangerous government school across town.

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Yep. It was far better when

Yep. It was far better when we had starving, illiterate mothers and children who just got on with it, and died in the dusty gutters where they belonged.


[url=]More photos here...[/url]

SOMETHING had to be done. What was done was maybe too much, in the end, but still.....

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Lest We Forget Why "What Was

Lest We Forget Why "What Was Done," Was Done...

Joined: 01/28/2009 - 1:27pm
Rep. Connor needs to

Rep. Connor needs to 'refresh' his memory more than a bit. Not only are families on welfare over 5 years, we have allowed it to become generational. I can name 5 families where the third genration is 'on the state'.

He is right about 1 thing, that is reworking the system to give incentives for education/training to get back into the work force. I think they should be built into the first 18 months, period.

Traci G
Joined: 10/16/2007 - 6:27pm
deadbeat, if you want to find

deadbeat, if you want to find hypocrisy you need look no further than the democrat control in Augusta that would invite welfare recipients to this state knowing DAMN WELL THERE ARE NO JOBS!!!!! this puts these people in a dead end situation with no way out........and at the mercy of the hand that feeds them, which is the point and its done by design. If one votes democrat after taking a look around at the poor people in this state they are an idiot.

The rep. Naran quoted is probably correct in who actually stays here from away, once here for 2 years they can take their section 8 voucher back to the state they came from and live rent free....and thats the other thing people come here for to jump the front of the line, take the section 8 and go after two years. I had one client who did that and moved to HAWAII with her section 8 voucher. Tax payers here are lucky to make it to bangor twice a year to eat a nice meal out and go to a movie...which of course now is going to be taxed even higher if the democrats have their way. Working people vote Republican.

Michelle Anderson
Joined: 11/03/2003 - 1:01am
Naran wrote:Yep. It was far

[quote="Naran"]Yep. It was far better when we had starving, illiterate mothers and children who just got on with it, and died in the dusty gutters where they belonged.

Nice rhetoric. But for all its drama, it rings hollow.

Are you under the impression that the federal government would have had enough money to throw at the poor during the depression?

Joined: 11/17/2002 - 1:01am
Naran I am so angry after

Naran I am so angry after reading your post from Gary. In fact I was so livid I couldn't read it word for word. I have posted here many times saying that I know people who work for OIAS, who are the folks who determine eligibility. While this is true, I am going to out myself to a certain degree. Gary is either a liar, doesn't listen or is being lied to. I know because I work there. I have many many cases over 5 years old. In fact they are so large we have 2 and 3 volumes. Ask them how many cases have an adult that is not on the grant because they don't want to work to get off TANF so their needs are not included and they only receive for the children. Believe it or not these are not considered in the 5 year count because the adult is not on. You see you have to know the correct way to ask the questions. My estimate is that we have about 1000 of these alone. And these are not the only over 5 year cases. You know what they say about statistics, anyone can make statistics look like they want them to look. The same is true with this topic. I know one person that can spin information and facts and statistics like you have never seen and this is the person that will be supplying this type of information most of the time. As I have said before if you want the truth don't ask an appointee. You will get the administration line or they will be fired.

Second they have talking points that we are suppose to say. For example people don't move here to get benefits. They will tout the $$$ amount for a mom and one child (about $341) so why would anyone move here? What they don't tell you is Maine Care, Food Supplement, support services in Aspire, rental help and anything else I have forgotten has to be added in. Aspire support services alone are car repair, car insurance, milage, dental, child care, clothing and other misc things.

Just sit in our door yard and count the out of state vehicles. I believe I told a story recently about a clilent taking their child to Boston Hospital. The clilent lived out in the mid west. Boston told them to locate to Maine because we have better limits on Maine Care coverage. Guess were he lives now. Ask Rep Clark how many out of staters moved on one street alone in his area and ask him what they told him why. The answer, as I was told, was better benefit opportunity. You won't hear him offer it because because to do so would go against the administration he supports.

The letter talks about cliff.....this is garbage.......we have a Transitional Child Care Program which helps pay child care expense when someone goes to work, we have Transitional Transportation which helps pay for transition up to $10.00 per day for each day worked up to a year when they go to work, we have Transitional Maine Care which keeps the Maine care going when someone works their way off welfare for an additional year and believe me the income guideline is quite high for Maine Care so I rarely see folks lose that, ever, we have Transitional Worker Supplement, this was developed so we can keep people on the roles while working and get a federal count for their participation of going to work. The money comes from the TANF block grant but is paid as a food supplement so it is not $$$ that is counted in other programs and we also have Transitional Food Assistance, this is when a client loses their eligibility for food stamps we can still help with $75 per month for a period of many months then $50 for many more months. So I ask you where the hell is the cliff.

I have said many times if you want to know the truth pick up the phone and ask any eligibility worker or Aspire worker what they experience on a daily basis. These programs are not a secret. The only reason they don't get asked is because no one wants to hear the truth. We are not a state of a "hand up". We are a state of "a hand out". Then I can get into how staff are treated on a daily basis. Clients use to be grateful for help. The caliber of client today is "you work for me". "I know what I am entitled to and I want it all or I'm going to Pine Tree Legal or Maine Equal Justice". And they expect instant service and the vile language staff have to listen to is outrageous. That is one group of state employee that earns every single penny they are paid. I have seen staff reduced to tears quite regularly.

Sorry for the tirade I just get angry when things are portrayed as facts when in fact they are far from the truth.

Joined: 11/17/2002 - 1:01am
Oh I almost forgot TANF has a

Oh I almost forgot TANF has a Parents as Scholars Program where Aspire supports those that want to go to college up to a bachelors degree. And boy don't some get mad when we tell them no masters. They have to do that on their own. And don't think for one minute that just because they get their degree they go off public assistance. We have several that have no intention. They enjoyed being a student but will do everything in their power to be a stay at home mom. Thankfully most do use the degree and go on to be successful but not all.

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Franco - thank you for the

Franco - thank you for the input on the post from Rep. Connor, and the clarification on details the way you see things.

As I stated earlier, I hope he'll take the opportunity of joining AMG, and chiming in.

Earl Nickerson . Jr
Joined: 11/24/2002 - 1:01am
As I stated earlier, I hope

As I stated earlier, I hope he'll take the opportunity of joining AMG, and chiming in.

You forgot your pigs flying pic , Naran....LOL...

Joined: 03/10/2005 - 1:01am
I have said many times if you

I have said many times if you want to know the truth pick up the phone and ask any eligibility worker or Aspire worker what they experience on a daily basis


That is one group of state employee that earns every single penny they are paid.

Stop and think about this for a minute - you are saying that welfare workers earn their keep because they participate in and are responsible for a system that perpetuates failure.

After college, with a degree in languages, I was hired as a translator for welfare recipients in another state, with much larger urban and linguistically diverse populations. It became pretty evident early on that the welfare industry was as dependent on its clientele as the recipients were on their weekly checks - the only real difference was on which side of the desk you sat.

It is a self-perpetuating cycle, and it is entrenched. My Russian clients were the most cheerfully philosophical about it, and it dawned on me, that, really, most welfare recipients are doing as they are told, even encouraged to do.

Joined: 01/18/2005 - 1:01am
As Maine Goes, So Goes the

As Maine Goes, So Goes the Nation.
What can we do to up our status to #1 in this contest?

Joined: 01/18/2005 - 1:01am
There is a bumper sticker

There is a bumper sticker slogan advertised on this site stating that people who work vote Republican. That is the key. Democrats have been buying votes by appealing to crowds who won't work but are allowed to vote for at least 40 years. Pretty good scheme actually. More subtle than buying people drinks on election day before they cast their ballot, but no more ethical.
Naran, while my heart hurts over the "Grapes of Wrath" pictures, help is not a one way street.
I do not want to pay for people who are irresponsible, lazy, immoral, or any other repugnant behavior. If they CHOOSE to die in a dusty gutter, I won't stand in their way. If a woman is a widow raising children (through no fault of her own) then she should receive help through the religious organization that she belongs to and follows their moral standards. I drove past Cape Heart (I think its called) recently and saw big strapping men young enough to be my grandsons just sitting around all hopeless and such while mommy used a wireless lap top computer. Hey! I have to work, crap rolls down hill.

Joined: 05/06/2009 - 4:21pm
"What can we do to up our

"What can we do to up our status to #1 in this contest?"


1) Call the legislature back into session. I'm sure a majority of them will be horrified to learn of our runner-up status.

2) If California cows can advertise California dairy products in Maine, I don't see why our economic development folks can't buy television time in California to market the benefits of living in Maine. Seems only fair.

Joined: 11/17/2002 - 1:01am
Francisz I hear what you are

Francisz I hear what you are saying.............however, the sytem as I know it today was not llike this in the past. You might say it has kind of evolved. Frankly there use to be a little bit of of a stigma when someone needed to apply for assistance and that is not such a bad thing. The stigma for me meant there was a recognization that this money is provided by others to help me get on my feet or through a bad time. This is simply not true the vast majority of the time now. In the old days it was the state nurse or social worker that would pay a person a visit to check on the family to ensure everything was OK and not just throw $$$ at them in the form of benefits. While they got the $$$ they also got a visit and one on one intervention. Our system now allows people to work under the table and yes we know it goes on all the time but try to prove it from a desk inside a brick building. I believe the 1000 cases where the adult is sanctioned and they just received for the children, is in fact a working under the table situation most times.....but try and prove it. Also to do home visits now you can rest assured we would be stepping on peoples civil liberties and that would be in court before you could blink an eye. Our system also allows boyfriend and girlfriends to sign that they are separate household (in other words they don't eat their meals together) and they get to receive Food Supplement separately. In other words if one of them is working we wouldn't look at his or hers wages to determine how much the other person receives. I could go on and on.

Francisz I know there have been other threads that have discussed the staff working in this Office are just as bad as the recipients themselves. I guess that is where you and I might disagree. First, it is honest hard work and as I said earlier they are not the programs they once were. I hear new staff say things like " I want to help people get back on their feet because I needed it once and don't know what I would have done without the help". I guess that is really what it should be about. Maybe it is those folks that should be asked what are the problems with the system having sat on both sides. We have several staff that use to be on the system who now work for the system and yes they sure do know the holes that could and should be plugged. In fact some have actually written suggestions to this and the past administration but to no avail. And based on your previous comment, implying that those who work to determine eligibility are just as much the problem as those receiving it, if the program was not there they wouldn't be there. Staff right now carry over 800 cases each in my office and we have 50 plus staff doing that job (just in one office). It's the programs that need to be changed and then when that is done if the need for staff diminishes then that should occur as well. They go hand in hand.

We have taken what was once a safety net and turned it into an unrespectable way of life.

Joined: 03/11/2009 - 10:06am
I have little doubt that the

I have little doubt that the system is to some extent self perpetuating, generational welfare a fact and a system where benefits are more easily accessed the trend.
I also believe the heart of the problems is jobs , jobs, jobs .The anti-business liberally controlled legislature in Maine has not created an environment where work opportunities can flourish.
When employment opportunities in Maine become more lucrative than collecting from the state then for the motivated things get better and for the unmotivated, the state can give them an ultimatum..........
I think there is no better example of how a free market place with limited gov interference , regulation and excessive taxes could actuually lower the cost of government. But I guess that would take a seachange in the thinking in Augusta.

Joined: 03/09/2004 - 1:01am
Good testimony, Franco

Good testimony, Franco Republican.
I wish the next governor would sit down with people like you, across departments, to learn what works and what doesn't work; how skewed are the incentives; how do people get around the rules, etc.

Joined: 03/10/2005 - 1:01am
Franco-Republican, My intent


My intent is not to demean either the case worker or the recipient, but if the system is the problem, if, as you say, and I am in complete agreement: it's the programs that need to be changed, then I am suggesting that anger directed disproportionately at one side of the equation is futile.

Welfare is not, and never has been about behavior modification, it is an act of generosity on the part of a materially well-off society. The byzantine system that you describe (and which I witnessed firsthand) is not the fault of the perpetual underclass - it was built, brick by brick, acronym by acronym, by well-meaning policy wonks and administered by well-meaning social workers. They must also be the ones held responsible for its failure - if, in fact, we can agree that the creation of an entrenched, dependent and permanent underclass is failure, and not a by-product of relative large-scale material wealth.

I know well the value of the people on both sides of the desk, and still count among my friends people I met on both sides, I don't diminish the work itself or those who administer the benefits. You have an articulate voice that should be heard - you have an authority that others of us, from outside the system, lack. You seem fully capable of identifying the problems that have "evolved" over time, but under the weight of800 cases, I imagine the average worker is treading water, trying not to drown.

What now? The welfare economy is here to stay - but there are creative applications such as Sen's capabilities approach and microeconomics. Have you any economists on your staff? Mathematicians? Social workers can't - have proven that they can't - do it all.


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