Maine governor hammers away at welfare fraud

AUGUSTA — Maine Gov. Paul LePage plans to introduce legislation to address welfare fraud that he cited in Electronic Benefit Transfer card transactions made at liquor stores, smoke shops and strip clubs.

LePage introduced data last week that indicate there were 3,000 Electronic Benefit Transfer card transactions made at shops in Maine that primarily sell cigarettes and tobacco products between 2011 and November 2013. Another 650 transactions were made at places that primarily sell alcohol.

Critics say that the waste cited by the governor accounts for only a tiny fraction of benefits.

But LePage said Saturday that he'll be introducing legislation in the new session to address the welfare fraud.

"It's imperative that fraud is eliminated from the welfare system because it takes away from those who need it most. Our administration is committed to helping those who are truly in need, but we cannot support those cheating the system," the governor said in his weekly address.

LePage also said he's introducing a bill to repeal a state law that prevents Maine from complying with federal requirements in its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Welfare reform adopted by the Clinton administration in 1996 requires TANF recipients to either work or train for a job but state exemptions allow recipients to get around the requirement, he said.

"This puts us out of line with federal standards, and we now face $13 million in fines from the Obama administration," said LePage, who described his proposal as "common-sense legislation."

Democrats used their message to focus on renewed attempts to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Committee hearings on the new expansion bill are expected to begin next week.

A new study commissioned by the LePage administration suggests that the expansion would cost the state $807 million over 10 years, but House Speaker Mark Eves said independent studies suggest the expansion could save the state $690 million over the same period.

"Maine has an opportunity to accept 100 percent federal funding to provide health care for 70,000 Maine people, including nearly 3,000 veterans. We should do it," Eves said.

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Comments

RONALD RIML's picture

Most of the Welfare $$$ spent on Cigarettes

Obviously comes back to the Govt in the form of Taxes.

So what's Mr. Beefy's Beef???

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The guilty

Why does it make sense to punish ALL the poor people by cutting their benefits and their programs and making their services inaccessible because a small number of them misuse their benefits but it doesn't make sense to inconvenience law abiding gun owners by asking them to register their guns to keep them out of the hands of crazy people and criminals. It seems to me you are in favor of punishing the majority for the misdeeds of the minority or you are not. Even worse is to stand on the backs of the sick and the poor to get yourself re-elected by pretending this expensive crusade against fraud is actually saving the taxpayer money.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Why can't he just..............

Why can't he just break down and do some legislating to actually help the citizens of Maine. What he is doing is insane, plain and simple. He's going after .1% of all the EBT transactions because they may have possibly been fraudulent. How is that helping anyone other than his reelection campaign? We need to get the men in "little white suits" on him soon. Maybe he could find some legislation to push, sitting up to Riverview for a while.......................

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

This is a good thing for the Dems and the voters

Let the guy go after the 1%, this will be his Waterloo and he will lose his temper and stomp his feet and when it all crumbles before his eyes, the duct tape will be an iota of any help in keeping his loud trap shut.

He'll spin it as the Dems don't want to do anything and the intelligent ones on the other side of the aisle will see it is more of a cost attacking the many for the few. It will be a lose-lose for the repubs.

LePage is good, as proven, at spending the taxpayers money...this whole fiasco will be a dollar chasing a dime and he's going to own it...

Just one more nail in his coffin....

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I love how the..........

I love how the Kennebec Journal put it. "LePage to remove 100% of welfare fraud". I mean really, he thinks he is more intelligent than every other Governor in Maine's history. He's going to do what has never been done before, or so he thinks. I just wonder how much money he's going to waste on this little campaign stunt.......................

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

He should be hammering and framing another box car and

At looking to find another job come after Nov 2014. Because he will be leaving come Jan 2015 for Florida with his carpet bags and nepotistic family.

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