Efforts to reform welfare in Maine has been a hot topic for everyone since the re-election of Gov. LePage.

LePage has proposed his bill, “An Act Concerning Reforms to Maine’s Welfare Programs.” This bill plans to set harsher limits on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and stricter and no usage of EBT cards outside of Maine.

LePage’s proposal says that there will be a shorter time limit for TANF benefits and that individuals who are “job-ready” will have to prove they have applied to three jobs before receiving welfare.

While LePage wants to cut down on welfare, he leaves out the important piece of adding supplemental programming to support those “job-ready” individuals in applying for jobs and going on interviews.

Without the backing of funding to support these types of programs, we will see more poverty across the state and people looking to General Assistance to help where they would have been getting TANF before. The focus should be on building our economy to support the state and create jobs.

Support a welfare reform bill that encompasses new programming to get people into jobs and sustaining those jobs, funding redistribution to support programs that increase “job readiness,” such as vocational training, skill readiness and English learning.

It is important to recognize the repercussions of welfare reform in Maine.

While many want to spend less money on welfare, the people who fall through the cracks and become no longer eligible with these restrictions will increase poverty and homelessness across the state. Without community support, we will just be adding to the welfare problem.

As students and social workers, we urge the Portland community to recognize the problems with this proposed bill, and we need to stand together to support those who need help.

Jaclyn D’Annibale

South Portland

Lauren Martinez

Portland