Thursday, April 17, 2014
Maine’s General Assistance program is funded using local property and state taxes. It’s intended for the needs of local residents.
It’s disconcerting to read the caterwauling in the pages of the Portland Press Herald about how Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to align General Assistance to federal law is:
• “Unfair” (“Letter to the editor: Asylum seekers already here should not lose state aid,” Jan. 16).
• An “immoral proposal” (“Letter to the editor: Gov. LePage’s General Assistance proposal looks self-serving,” Jan. 20).
• A “war on the poor” (“Bill Nemitz: Try looking at asylum seekers from both sides,” Jan. 26).
What is immoral is using funds intended to help municipalities to grease the skids for a continuing inflow of gatecrashers into Maine.
What’s not understood is the insidious nature of the asylum program. Unlike the refugee program, there’s no limit on those granted asylum status. The program started in 1980 with an annual limit of 5,000; the limits were removed in 2005. In 2012, the number granted asylum status in the United States increased to 29,484.
While the gatecrashers’ needs are trumpeted by their advocates, what we don’t hear are our local needs.
Bridgton’s food pantries and fuel collaborative were running out of money and had to broadcast requests for donations.
Bridgton is among the poorest communities in Cumberland County, and its needs are no less significant than those of the asylees – a situation I am fully aware of, as I was able through Divine Providence to establish a charitable trust, which recently made contributions to our fuel collaborative that will help heat the homes of one or more of our local families for the remainder of the winter.
General Assistance should be for well-established local and state residents only – period!