Today, the Portland Press Herald published part 1 of a 3 part series on the state of Welfare in Maine. They cite our report “Fix the System: Freeing Maine Families from Welfare Dependency” several times, as well as provide additional insight from our ceo Tarren Bragdon, and Steven Bowen, the lead author on the Welfare report.
See an excerpt below and read the entire article here: “Welfare: Well-meaning, well-funded, well-done?”
Advocates and critics of the system both throw out statistics to support their views, but it is clear that Maine’s system is facing historic pressures.
• More than one in six Mainers — about 18 percent — are receiving public assistance to help pay for food, shelter or other basic needs, according to state data. Most receive food supplements, or food stamps, a federal program that has expanded to record enrollments in Maine and nationwide.
• If you include MaineCare, a government health insurance program, the number of Mainers getting some public assistance jumps to nearly one in three, or 29.7 percent. That’s 391,178 adults and children, state records show.
• A record number of Mainers — 56,000 — are counted as unemployed, and more than 150,000 — one in nine — lived below the poverty line last year, according to state and federal data. Long-term trends, including a rapidly aging population, mean pressure on Maine’s welfare system is likely to continue even as the economy recovers.
• Government is spending about 45 percent more than it did five years ago to provide food and shelter assistance in Maine. The federal government has paid for three-quarters of the increase.
To critics, the growing size of the programs reflects a culture of dependence. “There’s been a massive explosion in the amount of people trapped in Maine’s welfare system,” says Tarren Bragdon, director of the Maine Heritage Policy Center.