Maine Shows How To Make Welfare Work

On May 25, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services released a report on how individuals who transitioned off Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fared in the years that followed. This report follows Governor Paul LePage’s 2012 decision to enforce existing time limits for this supposedly temporary program’s eligibility. Despite claims that moving people off government assistance would result in widespread hardship, the data show that promoting work over welfare helped people substantially increase their incomes, which saved taxpayer dollars and preserved public resources for the truly needy.

In what follows, outgoing Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Mary Mayhew shares the findings from the new report and reflects on what federal welfare reformers can learn from her success over the past half-decade in Maine.