Weekly Message: A Road to Economic Independence

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Listen to the Weekly Message from Governor Paul R. LePage here.

Welfare Reform: A Road to Economic Independence

I believe in giving back, and that is one of the reasons I was compelled to become Governor.  

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

If people are provided with opportunity, they can lift themselves from poverty.

This is the attitude our administration has embraced – a path that empowers people to take control of their lives.

Our goal is to help Mainers successfully and sustainably transition off welfare assistance.

While we have a generous spirit in Maine, we do not have an unlimited ability to pay for welfare.  

Recent data shows that the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program caseload has decreased from about 15,000 cases in January 2011 to about 9,000 cases in June of this year.  This reflects a decrease in caseload of 41 percent.

We are experiencing a drop in welfare assistance by promoting job preparation and work. Public assistance is no longer a lifetime benefit but an opportunity to become independent after a financial crisis.

The departments of Health and Human Resources, Education and Labor have teamed up to strengthen efforts to move people off public assistance and into the workforce by creating a comprehensive strategic redesign of Maine’s welfare system.

For those receiving assistance, we are identifying both strengths and barriers to employment and using those comprehensive assessments to arrange for appropriate supports to enable employment.

I believe Mainers can reach economic independence because I’ve done it myself and I’ve seen others do the same.

In 2011, Jennifer Cloukey, who had been married for 15 years, found herself raising four children alone, working toward a nursing degree and on multiple welfare programs, including the one I just mentioned.

When I met Jennifer she told me even though she had a low income and four children she decided she wanted more. She said she felt trapped, but she made a choice to overcome her circumstances.

Today, Jennifer is transitioning successfully off welfare and earning a living in a career she enjoys. Jennifer is an example of what it means to live the American Dream.

Maine’s safety net should provide a helping hand not a permanent hand out and when used correctly it does give Mainers opportunities toward economic independence as Jennifer has shown.

Thank you for listening. 

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