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LePage’s Budget Trims $70 Million From Maine Welfare Programs

In his two-year state budget, Gov. Paul LePage is proposing several changes to the state’s welfare programs, part of an ongoing strategy since he was first elected to reduce the overall cost of welfare and to use the savings to lower taxes.

In his budget, LePage is proposing nearly $70 million in cuts to welfare programs. The largest cut would eliminate able-bodied parents, whose income is 40 percent of the federal poverty level, from the Medicaid program.

“We’ve already seen 40,000 Maine people lose access to health insurance as the result of cuts to the MaineCare program, and so now we are going to see thousands more,” says Robyn Merrill with Maine Equal Justice Partners, a low-income advocacy group. “These are low income — they are low-wage working parents.”

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew says her agency is reducing spending by about $140 million over the two years of the budget to help lower taxes and improve the economy for all. The budget also proposes to eliminate general assistance and would limit how long a person could receive aid under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.