Welfare rule changes worry Lewiston officials

LEWISTON — Changes to Maine's welfare rules could hurt the city, councilors told members of the state Legislature Tuesday night.

City councilors and city staff told Lewiston's representatives to the Maine Senate and House of Representatives that changes to Temporary Aid to Needy Families will cancel benefits to 337 Lewiston families as of May 1.

That's when those families reach a five-year limit on benefits that was adopted by the state last fall.

That could potentially send those families to Lewiston looking for General Assistance benefits. TANF benefits are supported by the federal government, while General Assistance is paid by the state and local governments.

"So if the state believes that certain people should be economically self sufficient and therefore should not receive state support, why in the world would you send them to their local City Hall and say 'They'll take care of you,'?" City Administrator Ed Barrett asked. "If you are sensing frustration, I think it's because we have not been able to get information and this has all been dropped on us very quickly."

Barrett said he has been unable to get firm estimates from the state Department of Health and Human Services, but said paying the additional General Assistance benefits could cost the city between $80,000 and $525,000.

Legislators are also considering a measure to reduce the amount of General Assistance compensation they pay to the cities. That measure could push new costs as high as $1.3 million to the city, Barrett said.

"Quite frankly, we just cannot absorb that," Mayor Robert Macdonald said. "What we'd like to know is, where is everyone going to stand? If we have to put these people on our welfare, we're going to get killed."

Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, said that she and her Lewiston colleagues understood. Rotundo was joined by Rep. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston, Rep. Michel Lajoie, D-Lewiston, Rep. Richard Wagner, D-Lewiston, and Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston,

"We share your frustration, but we are not in the majority," Rotundo said. "Last spring we did what we could to minimize that impact of all of these proposals."


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Barbara Parker's picture

Five Years....Enough is enough

I am not against people receiving assistance from time to time but alot of people just ABUSE IT and work the system not only TANIF but also the city slips..

I think 5 years on the "System" is too long, makes people more needy, get a job and be self sufficient and stand on your own two feet... I know my Mom did...My dad left when we were young, their were six of us..well she turned to the Welfare system for a brief and I mean brief time....Guess what after three months she got up and got a job and worked her butt off to provide not only for herself but for her six children, thanks Mom you taught us all NOT TO RELY ON TANIF/WELFARE.....

Mike Lachance's picture

Barbara, my mom did the same

Barbara, my mom did the same thing.. she raised three boys on her own and never took a dime of welfare. It took, pride, perseverence and self-confidence. She never had more than a college education and a technical certificate for secretarial work. She worked two jobs at times to keep us fed.

Those lessons will last a lifetime for three men who now have families of their own.

Mike Lachance's picture

correction: she never HAD a

correction: she never HAD a college education.

Dan Beggs's picture

stop handing out money

stop handing out money. or offer them one payment to move with a signed agreement that they can never receive benefits again. temporary means just that temporary. many of the resipients moved to lewiston for the welfare programs, stop handing out the money and they will leave.

Mike Lachance's picture

who put the "T" in the

who put the "T" in the Tan-Tan-TANF?
We want to put it back.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

They get 5 years worth of

They get 5 years worth of help from the state, another 5 years from Lewiston, or whatever town they live in, and when all's said and done, you have folks being supported by the taxpayers for 10 years, give or take. Something's wrong with this picture.

Mike Lachance's picture

then when thats done, they

then when thats done, they can apply for an extension (AS MANY TIMES AS THEY WANT!)
Yes... that IS the way our system is set up...

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

But, we who are paying for

But, we who are paying for all this must remain compassionate, right?

Cris Johnson's picture

The Problem That Won't Go Away

Poverty is a pesky thing. It won't go away by closing our eyes. Indignant posturing won't solve the problem, it simply makes matters worse.

There are really only two choices. We as a community of people can provide programs to ease the stress and burden poverty places on those who cannot provide for themselves or cut them off and complain as they and we suffer the consequences.

As people fall further into unbearable circumstances, the impact they have, both financially and socially upon the rest of society doesn't decrease, it escalates. And that's the fallacy of the arguments opposing government spending on social services spending.

The term "welfare" has become a catch-phrase of disdain in some circles. In fact, there is no such thing. There are many separate government programs that afford help to those in need and were designed to provide minimal assistance that relieves specific burdens placed on our communities in general and families in particular.

Recently, a bitter and resentful wave has swept over America and Maine. It's motto was stolen from a document created to affirm a peoples' commitment to each other and their pledge to assure the common good.

"We The People" was never meant to be the selfish boast it has become.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Where does "We The People"

Where does "We The People" state that the taxpayers are morally bound to support poor families from one generation to the next?

Cris Johnson's picture

" ... promote the general Welfare ..."

This not a moral obligation, it is a part of the statement of purpose located in the preamble. It is one of six specific obligations to the citizenry that our Constitution is premised upon.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I'll bet the words, "for

I'll bet the words, "for successive generations" don't appear in there.

Cris Johnson's picture

Paul wins his bet

Assuming that you're familiar with the Preamble, you already know that they don't. That's a sucker bet.

Assuming that you understand the Constitution, you already know that it was not a prescription for democracy but the ground work for one to develop. Inherent in it's wisdom is the notion that it would apply to future generations for as long as it endured and that those precepts would be honored by future patriots.

Mike Lachance's picture

Gee, thats alot of "it's" Not

Gee, thats alot of "it's"
Not alot of substance. I guess it all depends on what the meaning of it is, huh?

 's picture

come on after 5 years

come on after 5 years something is not working, T was for tempoary. For years I've been watching folks on unemployment who always find a job when the bennifets run out.

Some time cold turkey is the way to go. Shut them off see where they are in a year.

Peter Neal's picture


The T in TANF stands for temporary. After 5 years that should be plenty of time to get back on ones feet. It should not be a life style but a short term helping hand. The towns need to hold these folks to the same standards. If the freebies go away it is an added incentive to change the situation.
Again T is for TEMPORARY

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Take away the freebies and

Take away the freebies and guess what? Most of them will go to work.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Wow what an eye opener.

" We share your frustration, but we're not in the majority". That says so much about whats wrong with this state and this country.
Like I mentioned in an earlier post last week, not enough toy soldiers on our side. Evidently the Republicans have more toy soldiers on their side so its their way or the highway.
I always thought that everyone had an equal say, yet evidently you have no say unless your lucky enough to be on the winning side. Its called " Government by the people for the Republicans ", or Democrats, I don't ever remember reading that in any history books I've read, and I've read a lot of history books.
Maybe we should get rid of the two party system. appoint, not elect, a single group of people whose sole purpose is solving the problems of day to day living. That almost sounds to simple. The fact is we already have this group. Unfortunately they can't work together. Its them or us, or us and them. However you put it, whether your Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter. Until someone can break this mentality nothing constructive will ever get done. Just pass it on to the people. Sometimes I think these politicians gauge success by how many people their hurting.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

More Americans are receiving

More Americans are receiving food stamps, or whatever they call it now, than at any time in our history. oBAMa's regime wears it as a true sense of government achievement; a badge of honor.

Betty Davies's picture

G Bush brought us to the brink of Depression II

President Obama has faced years of Republican obstructionism, but has made some headway on improving things. Progress is slow because the Republicans know that only by stifling recovery (and blaming it on Obama) do they have a hope of getting elected.

The Republicans would love to 1) see even more people unemployed (bolstering their election chances) and 2) made sure no unemployed person gets any sort of govenment assistance, whether unemployment benefits or food stamps. They depend on average Americans being unable to imagine that they, themselves, could ever be destitute.

Mike Lachance's picture

Betty, that arguement has

Betty, that arguement has been run through the washer and come out in tatters for over a year now. Some history for you:

a) The repubs lost control of Congress in 2006.
b) GWB and even John (king of the RINOs) McCain warned congress dozens times starting in 2001 about the volatility of Fannie/Freddie
c) Dems ignored all warnings and stood by the housing market (Barney Frank most vociferously)
d) Dems continued in-control through the end of GWB's term.
e) GWB made the mistake of signing on to the TARP and Bailouts brought forth by the DEM controlled congress.
f) Obama got elected. Dems remained in control of Congress and now had the WH too.
g) over a year later after Dem congress and Obama approved a SECOND bailout, it was evident both bailouts had failed and the housing market was trashed.
h) Repubs finally got control of the House ONLY, in 2010. Dems remained in control of WH and Senate.
i) The House has passed more bills in the last 2 years than in the last 8, the DEM Senate has passed almost NO new bills since 2010.
j) Obama and the DEMS OWN the economy 110%.
k) Gas prices continue to climb under Obama and the Dem Senate. Whereas during t he 2008 campaign the mere mention of "drill baby drill" and the propect of finally becoming oil independent scared the prices back down, before Obama got elected and the pressure was off.... they have subsequently gone up up up since Obama stifles every attempt to capture our own oil. Obama OWNS gas prices.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Most compelling; excellently

Most compelling; excellently stated.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Nice to see you have it all

Nice to see you have it all figured out. I guess we'll agree to disagree.

Mike Lachance's picture

hopefully Betty can read...

hopefully Betty can read...


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