Maine's Health and Human Services Committee is considering a pair of bipartisan bills Tuesday that address generational poverty.
Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon says that under current state requirements, many low-income families are not getting the support they need. She is sponsor of a bill that, among other things, would expand eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF).
"Currently a family of three must have a gross income of less than $12,276 to qualify for TANF," she says.
Under Gideon's proposal, which has Republican co-sponsors, the same size family would qualify for TANF if their an annual income was a little less than $19,000 per year.
A companion bill sponsored by Republican Assistant Minority Leader Trey Stewart would provide more support to families as they transition off of state programs to avoid the so-called 'benefits cliff.'
"The real world does not operate in terms of black and white,” Stewart says. “When our system of public benefits for low income Mainers does, it leaves many behind, thus boxing them out of the workforce."
Stewart’s bill has the backing of several Democrats.