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Politics

Mills Signs Into Law Bipartisan Bills Aimed At Reducing Poverty In Maine

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Mal Leary
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Gov. Janet Mills has signed into law two bills that supporters say are aimed at reducing poverty in the state.

Gov. Janet Mills has signed into law two bills that supporters say are aimed at reducing poverty in the state.

One measure gives more families access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits by eliminating the gross income test.

House Speaker Sara Gideon, a Democrat from Freeport, sponsored the bill.

"We all know that children who grow up in poverty are less likely to do well in school, less likely to graduate from school, or go to college and therefore less likely to succeed,” says Gideon.

The second bill reduces the so-called "benefits cliff," by reducing TANF and food stamp benefits as parents go to work instead of cutting off benefits completely when family income reaches a certain threshold.

Supporters say the bills are aimed at helping parents get the skills needed to get a good job while making sure families basic needs are met as they move from welfare to work.

Maine Rep. Trey Stewart, a Republican from Presque Isle and Assistant House Minority Leader, sponsored the second bill.

“Politics today is so bitter and partisan and cringe worthy," says Stewart. "But this was really an issue where we were able to find that middle ground on everything.”