Posted: April 07, 2014 | Front Page, Senator Craven, Senator Gratwick, Senator Vitelli

Dems defeats three harmful LePage proposals

AUGUSTA—The Senate joined the House in defeating three bills which would have put up barriers for families in crisis to get help when they need it.

The first measure debated was LD 1842 which would have eliminated the successful Parents as Scholars program, a program championed by Democrats and Republicans. It was defeated in the Senate in a party line vote of 20 – 15.

“It’s easy to score political points by railing against ‘welfare recipients’.” It’s much harder to reform the system to make sure that it works,” said Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic. “And when we find something that works, we should stick with it. Parents as Scholars works. It is a proven strategy to help parents get the education they need to qualify for good jobs to make life better for themselves and their children.”

In another party line vote of 20-15, the Senate also defeated LD 1815, which would have required proof of three job searches before a person could receive assistance through the TANF program.

“This bill creates unnecessary hoops for people who are trying to get back on their feet,” said Senator Margaret Craven of Lewiston, the Senate Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “Pulling the rug out from struggling families and putting up barriers to help for families in crisis, including women and children who are fleeing domestic violence situations, is not just bad policy, it’s shameful.”

In Maine, 8,000 families are currently enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, including nearly 12,000 children. Nearly all families, or 92 percent, are headed by women and one in four people who receive TANF are fleeing domestic violence situations.

Governor LePage’s final bill, LD 1844, would have hurt cities and towns’ abilities to provide emergency assistance or General Assistance (GA) to struggling residents. The Senate voted it down in a 22-12 vote.

“General Assistance is the last resort for people who are having a hard time,” said Senator Geoff Gratwick of Bangor. “This bill is just an attempt to shove off the state’s share of the responsibility and shift it to the local taxpayer.”

All three measures were defeated by the House last week and none will receive further legislative action this session.