March 26, 2013

Lewiston kicks 84 people off welfare rolls

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald Macdonald says the city will save $162,000 by eliminating the 84 people.

2012 file photo

During the period examined in the Lewiston investigation, that rate was closer to 15 percent, Charron said.

Last year, $13.23 million of the nearly $17.5 million in assistance was paid from state coffers, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Gov. Paul LePage has targeted the expenditure in his biennial budget, and plans to cap the expense at $10.17 million annually, which by his office's estimations could save taxpayers $6.7 million in the next two years. The measure is part of a wider cost-saving plan to close a projected $112 million gap in the Department of Health and Human Services budget.

Robyn Merrill, a senior policy analyst at the Maine Equal Justice Partners, which advocates for low-income Mainers, said her group opposes LePage's cut because it would impose arbitrary limits on assistance, rather than weigh actual needs.

Merrill said the rhetoric around fraud accusations is troubling because it has the potential to unfairly tar the thousands of deserving people who benefit from the program.

"By no means do we condone fraud, but it is concerning seeing some of the messaging around this story," Merrill said. "In truth, the vast majority of people who access General Assitance genuinely need the help."

Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be contacted at: 791-6303 or at
mbyrne@mainetoday.com

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