March 8, 2011

Portland councilor opposes welfare cuts

By John Richardson
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A Portland city councilor testified against proposed cuts in state welfare funds during a budget hearing today.

City Councilor John Anton, chair of the council's finance committee, said a proposed reduction in General Assistance funding would shift nearly $650,000 in expenses onto city taxpayers. Other proposed changes that also would shift costs to the city include extended denial periods for state aid, the doubling of the waiting period for disability determination for temporary MaineCare coverage, the five-year cap on TANF benefits and the proposed elimination of state benefits for legal immigrants, according to Anton.

“I believe these proposals are not good for Maine and its most vulnerable citizens, and more directly related to my role as city councilor, these changes will result in an increased tax burden for the local property tax payer,” Anton said.

“We, like virtually all municipalities in the state, are witnessing a dramatic increase in the number of individuals seeking assistance for the first time. These individuals have strong and long-term work histories, and professional skill sets including secondary and graduate degrees from a variety of fields.  Many of these first-time applicants own their homes, have previously been employed and are now struggling with securing basic necessities,” he said.

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