Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s recent welfare reforms have led to more employment, higher wages, and less dependency, according to a preliminary report published by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Office of Policy and Management.
In October 2014, Maine began requiring about 16,000 able-bodied childless adults to work, train, or volunteer on at least a part-time basis in order to continue receiving food stamps. Adults who refused to comply with the new requirements would cycle off after three months of benefits.
Reform Led To Less Dependency
After implementing these reforms, Maine quickly moved thousands of able-bodied adults out of dependency and into self-sufficiency. By January 2015, the number of able-bodied adults on food stamps had dropped to 4,500 and has continued to decline.
These changes drew ire from the Obama administration, especially from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. But federal officials missed the huge potential upside of getting more individuals back into the workforce.
Today, just 1,500 able-bodied childless adults rely on Maine’s food stamps program. Those still relying on the program also need less assistance overall, as they are working more, with average benefits dropping 13% since the work requirements went into effect. As a result of these changes, taxpayers are now saving between $30 million and $40 million each year.