Radio Address: Lachowicz says: Helping Mainers pull themselves up is at the core of Democrats initiatives, measures that the Governor himself tried to stop.
Democratic lawmakers have long known that the best path out of poverty is a job. And to that end, we’ve long been committed to putting forth policies that help Mainers lift themselves out of poverty by securing financial independence through employment.
Good Morning. This is State Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville.
So while the best anti-poverty program is a job—it is, unfortunately, hard to find a job in Maine right now.
Maine’s job creation record is among the worst in the country—ranking at the bottom of the pack, with just 8 states doing worse than us.
And, for those who are working, we are earning less than we used to—and less than those elsewhere in the country. For the last four years, we’ve had the second worst personal income growth record–ranking 49th in the country.
And even though the rest of the country continues to climb out of the recession—by recovering all of the jobs lost from the recession—and even gaining some—Maine has barely recovered half of the jobs lost.
The fact is, Mainers continue to struggle.
Homelessness is up, child hunger is on the rise, and the lines at the local soup kitchen and food pantries are longer than ever.
Yet in spite of these facts, Governor LePage has been busy working to kick people off public assistance.
During the last four years, more middle-class families have fallen in to a place of scarcity. And so I ask you: how long could you go without getting a paycheck before your bills would stop being paid? How far can you stretch your savings to pay for groceries—or gas—or heat?
It is for the people of Maine that we continue to ensure that anti-poverty programs are working for both our most vulnerable citizens as well as those families who have been down on their luck and want to get back on their feet again.
Truly, temporary anti-poverty programs like SNAP and TANF can be life-savers for people who feel like they are sinking. And, we must ensure the integrity of these programs—both that they are used as they are intended and used by whom they are intended to help. To be clear, we do not tolerate—and nor can we afford—ANY waste, fraud or abuse in the system.
But let’s not buy into Gov. LePage’s rhetoric that everyone who is on public assistance is a welfare boogeyman. That simply isn’t true. They are our neighbors, friends, and family members.
Instead of, at all costs, cutting services to low-income Mainers as Governor LePage has, Democrats are determined to address the underlying reasons that cause people to seek assistance and help them get back on their feet without shame and stigma.
Making it easier for Mainers to pull themselves up and transition from welfare to work is at the core of initiatives that Democrats put forth this session, measures that the Governor himself tried to stop.
Gov. LePage fought to eliminate Parents As Scholars, a successful education and job training program that is a nationally recognized program that even former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe attempted to incorporate in to federal TANF law.
Many of these former “Parent-Scholars” are now employed throughout Maine as teachers in our local schools, healthcare providers, and electrical line workers. I know some of them and you do too, although you may not realize it.
The “Ticket to Work” law that passed this year, is another example of a real reform that addresses poverty and gets people back on their feet by ensuring that people who receive temporary help from the state go through an immediate and comprehensive assessment to identify and coordinate the training, education, and tools they need to find long-term employment.
Our reforms to anti-poverty programs in Maine don’t simply pull the rug out from struggling families, they help people escape poverty and find work so they can care for their families. And we understand that turning our economy around requires making investments in Maine’s most valuable resource – our people.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville. Have a great weekend.