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I asked our team to pause for family time this week before kids return to school. The homepage is updated daily. The Digest returns on Monday, August 2. —Mark Alexander

Apr. 13, 2015

Mass Exodus From ME Welfare Program as State Requires Work

Let’s say you live in the great state of Maine, down on your luck and needing some kind of social safety net to get you through. Would you say that spending at least 20 hours volunteering, working or participating in a work-training program is a fair trade-off for getting on the state’s food stamp program? Even if you spend all your time playing “Call of Duty,” surely you could carve out some time on the weekends to volunteer at the local animal shelter. But that requirement was too tough for 9,000 Mainiacs. Some 12,000 people were on Maine’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program before Jan. 1. After the government started enforcing the 20-hour rule, however, only 2,680 people stayed. Maine’s Department of Health and Human Service’s Commissioner, Mary Mayhew, told the Associated Press, “If you’re on these programs it means you are living in poverty and so the more that we can help incentivize people on that pathway to employment and self-sufficiency the better off they’re going to be.” While states like Georgia dabbled with drug testing welfare recipients (which had spotty results), it seems like the best way to help “the least of these” and prevent welfare fraud is to require a bit of honest work. More…

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