"DHHS Commissioner to testify at public hearing before state budget committee"
AUGUSTA - The Maine Legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee at 1:00 PM today will hold public hearings on budget initiatives to reform the General Assistance reimbursement rate and eliminate state-funded welfare and entitlement benefits for non-citizens.
The state currently reimburses municipalities for 50 percent of General Assistance welfare costs up to a threshold, where the match increases to 90 percent. The budget proposal calls for a 90 percent match up-front and a smaller, 10 percent match upon a municipality reaching a certain threshold. This is designed to eliminate the perverse incentive for cities to spend more.
"Flipping this reimbursement rate on its head would encourage Maine's larger cities to manage their GA programs in a cost-effective manner," said Maine DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew. "It would also provide fundamental fairness to the system, allowing smaller towns the opportunity to earn the 90 percent match, while providing some much-needed stability to the state's GA budget."
The federal government does not pay for SNAP, TANF, or SSI benefits for non-citizens. Maine decided in 1997 to become one of a minority of states to provide these benefits to non-citizens using 100 percent state taxpayers' dollars. Governor LePage in his first term eliminated this benefit for new enrollees. The LePage Administration's budget proposal would eliminate this extra benefit provided to non-citizens for current enrollees, saving $4.12 million over the biennium.
"Maine cannot afford to be a welfare outlier, providing taxpayer benefits to non-citizens while our neediest elderly and disabled Mainers are fighting for the services they desperately need," added Commissioner Mayhew. "This initiative is a perfect example of the LePage Administration's focus on prioritizing our services to help those most in need. Most Mainers would agree that somebody who has lived in Maine for 80 years and has paid into the system all their life should be our first priority."
Commissioner Mayhew will deliver her testimony at 1:00 and will be available for questions from the media immediately afterward in the State House Hall of Flags.