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In the past few weeks, several businesses opened or expanded creating hundreds of new jobs. While government isn’t creating those jobs, the state has helped create a more business-friendly environment.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

As a businessman, I understand economics and what it takes to run a successful business. In the past four years, I have brought that experience to State government and today we are seeing changes for the better.

More Mainers are working as we have seen a steady decline in the unemployment rate.

More than 8,500 jobs are listed on Maine’s Job Bank now and other websites offer even more.

Those without work have turned to welfare to help and our administration is committed to transitioning a welfare recipient to a career. And that commitment takes dedicated resources, time and effort of both the person receiving benefits and those providing support.

We have been working hard for four years to make much-needed reforms to Maine’s welfare system. These reforms are necessary to insure that Maine’s limited taxpayer dollars are being used properly, not abused or wasted.

We must make sure that our welfare resources provide services to Maine’s truly needy. A safety net is essential to protect our most vulnerable Mainers—the elderly, disabled and mentally ill.

We must also make sure that welfare provides a hand up for Mainers who have fallen on hard times. It can happen to any of us. But we must not provide a hand out to those who are able to work and earn a living without the taxpayers’ assistance.

That’s why we have worked to implement common-sense welfare reforms. Many of these reforms have been adopted in other states, including states like Massachusetts and New York.

We have put photos on EBT cards to discourage unauthorized use of the cards, and we have blocked the use of EBT cards at strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos. We now require able-bodied welfare recipients to work, and we have improved Maine’s welfare fraud unit.

In addition to those reforms, we are waiting on decisions on two of my top priorities for welfare reform. We want to require drug testing of welfare recipients who have been convicted of drug crimes in the past. Taxpayer money should go to those who are truly needy, not to feed drug addictions.

We are also working to enforce a federal law that prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving handouts. Again, our welfare dollars must be spent on truly needy Mainers, not those who are here illegally.

Our administration will not tolerate anyone who takes advantage of the system. For those of you who need a temporary hand up, we are happy to help you learn how to come off the system, get out of poverty and become a positive contributor to society.

Of course, the best solution to welfare is a good job. We know there are jobs waiting out there. There are 8,500 job postings on the Maine Job Bank, and there are “Help Wanted” signs all around the state.

We must continue to match up Mainers with those jobs on the job bank and our CareerCenters throughout the State are working on it.

We are reforming welfare by focusing on what people can do, not what they can’t.

We also find out what they want to do. Our welfare to work program, administered by the Departments of Education, Health and Human services and Labor, has helped more than 1,200 Mainers on welfare find full-time careers by assessing their skills and matching them with jobs that work for them.

Their collaboration is paying off for Maine’s people. This year, the state’s vocational rehabilitation program helped more than one-thousand people train for a new career, get a job and successfully remain employed. The program had their highest rehabilitation ever and met federal standards for the first time in at least 20 years.

If you or someone you know is on welfare, struggling finding a job, or has a physical or intellectual disability and wants to work, the Departments of Labor and DHHS can help.

Our administration is improving the lives of Mainers and we are going to continue on with that good work.

Thank you for listening.

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