Elaine -- General Assistance is different from TANF. GA is handed out on the local level, not the state.
You can find the rules for eligibility for both programs online.
The CATO study does not give the whole picture. Please review the following, from David Sorenson, Maine House Republicans.
The rankings should be seen as relative to GDP and cost of living.
· States that were “generous” included rich states with high costs of living, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Connecticut.
· States that ranked low, like Maine, included poorer states like Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Idaho.
· Maine may have ranked 41st for welfare “generosity,” but we also only have the 42nd-highest GDP. A welfare recipient in Maine doesn’t need as much in benefits to get by as a recipient in Boston or the tri-state area.
The ranking has serious gaps in methodology.
· Housing assistance in Maine is not included. When included, our rank jumps from 41 to 25.
· General Assistance is not included. GA ballooned in cost 169 percent from 2003 to 2012.
Looking at benefits per recipient gives only one, very narrow view of welfare dependence. Enrollment levels, eligibility standards, and fraud/abuse are hugely important.
· Maine ranks 3rd for TANF cash welfare enrollment
· Maine ranks 6th for food stamp enrollment
· Maine ranks 3rd for Medical welfare enrollment
· Maine’s food stamp error rate is 2nd
· Before Republican reforms, we were one of only seven states to allow lifetime, unlimited TANF cash benefits
· Maine is one of only nine states to provide food stamps and TANF to those convicted of drug-related felonies
· In 2007-2008, Maine ranked 5th for the percent of its TANF recipients not in the labor force
· Maine ranks 2nd for welfare spending as a percent of overall state spending
· Meanwhile, Maine’s poverty rate is actually well below the national average, at 15th lowest (12.9% compared to an average of 14.7%)
· Maine’s inflation-adjusted state welfare spending over the past two decades has nearly doubled while the poverty rate has remained constant.
David E. Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
The benefits you mention are in addition to General Assistance, which is given out on the municipal level. So, the range of benefits available to anyone moving to Maine, from day one, is substantial.
There's a reason people move to Maine, as opposed to New Hampshire or Massachusetts, which have less generous benefits, and a higher standard for eligibility.