AUGUSTA — Maine Gov. Paul LePage says the state is prosecuting more cases of welfare fraud and abuse.

The Republican governor said on Tuesday that 45 cases of fraud were referred to the Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit in 2012, compared with 32 in 2011. His office says there were only 10 cases referred to the unit in 2010, prior to LePage taking office.

The state recently hired eight more investigators to tackle welfare fraud. LePage says he plans to introduce more reforms to the state’s welfare system next session.

He recently touted the drop in residents relying on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. But Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick has said that has only resulted in more families relying on municipal assistance.