Welfare reform in Maine provides lessons for Ohio

Mar 05, 2015

Ohio, like many other states, has had its welfare rolls expand while its labor force has declined. A new report from The Buckeye Institute highlights several welfare program reforms championed by Maine Governor Paul LePage that could serve Ohio and other states well. Governor LePage’s efforts are aimed at ensuring that limited resources are better targeted to reach those with the most need while avoiding misuse that keeps individuals trapped in government-run assistance programs and out of employment.

Welfare reforms critical to Maine’s development include:

  • Requiring drug testing for anyone receiving TANF Program cash assistance who had a previous drug conviction and connecting likely drug users with assistance to get clean;
  • Tracking and blocking the use of TANF cash benefits, especially electronic benefit cards (EBT), at locations such as casinos or liquor stores;
  • Beginning a pilot program that includes a photo ID on EBT cards to reduce fraud;
  • Hiring additional fraud investigators;
  • Enhanced coordination between the Maine Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education to get those on Food Stamps employed more rapidly.

Report author Greg R. Lawson said,

Moving people into jobs is not merely a matter of dollars and cents, it is also a moral issue. We should be empowering Ohioans to break out of poverty while assuring government assistance remains a safety net rather than a safety hammock.