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Progressives and liberals think the status quo in our welfare system is just fine. They refuse to support any reforms, but Mainers know they’re out of touch. Mainers know the system is broken.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Current leadership rejected proposed legislation that requires applicants to look for work before signing up for welfare. This is common sense legislation, and 19 other states already have these work-search requirements.

We will submit legislation that would require those asking for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to show that they applied for three jobs before seeking TANF welfare benefits. This requirement is for able-bodied applicants who have no extenuating circumstances, such as disabilities, that prevent them from being able to work immediately.

TANF already requires that recipients participate in ASPIRE and search for work or get job training while receiving benefits. This bill simply says that those who are able to work must look for work before they can get TANF benefits. We believe that people who are able to work should try to find work before they ask taxpayers for help.

We will also submit legislation that eliminates or amends exceptions to the requirement that TANF recipients must participate in ASPIRE work-search programs. A variety of exceptions now allow TANF recipients to skip participation in ASPIRE. When able-bodied people receive welfare from the taxpayers, they must be looking for work.

We believe in a welfare-to-work system that transitions people off government benefits and puts them on the road to independence.

Mainers are good people who are always willing to lend a helping hand. But now they feel like they’re being taken advantage of. These bills make sure that those who are receiving welfare benefits are working just as hard as the Maine taxpayers who are providing them.

Finally, we will submit legislation that will crack down on the widespread abuse of EBT cards. These are debit cards that are loaded each month with cash and benefits for those on welfare. This cash is supposed to provide assistance to the children of needy families.

Unfortunately, too many people use their EBT cards to purchase illegal drugs, alcohol, lottery tickets and cigarettes. They also use them at casinos and other places that have nothing to do with providing the basic necessities to children and families.

Children do not need alcohol or cigarettes or lottery tickets. Our bill will make it illegal to purchase these items with EBT cards.

We have found some EBT cards issued in Maine are being used in places such as Las Vegas and Florida, as well as other states. Our bill will limit use of the cards to a certain geographic area. Hard-working Mainers do not provide these cash benefits so people can have fun in other states.

The reforms in these bills won’t harm those who are truly needy or who need a hand up during tough times. If they really need assistance and agree to play by the rules, Mainers are more than happy to provide them with benefits.

But we can no longer tolerate an unchecked welfare system that has no accountability. Mainers demand accountability from their government, and that should apply to our welfare system too.

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