This bill prohibits waivers for work requirements. Usually, states allow waivers to able-bodied people on SNAP if they live in counties with high unemployment rates and lacking jobs.
Senator Norman Sanderson’s rationale behind cutting SNAP: “And I think that we will be amazed that when this goes into effect, and I don’t know the exact number of people that this can ultimately effect, but I think you are going to see a lot of them either go and get that 20-hour a week job or they’re going to enroll in some kind of higher education to improve their job skills. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to get here.”
Because once they enroll in college or get a 20 hr a week low wage job, the food will magically appear in their fridge. Not to mention, if someone has to get a 20 hr a week job because they’re losing their SNAP, that 20-hr week job is probably a SECOND job. If they can find that job. Sen. Angela Bryant, a politician who seems to have a good amount of common sense, pointed out that those jobs just aren’t even there in some rural areas and that the state has also cut funding for higher education assistance. Senator Bryant offered an amendment to overturn the cuts. Thanks, Senator Bryant.
There’s a federal “asset test” that most states ignore but Maine is going to put the policy into effect for anyone receiving assistance. Recipients can’t have more than $5,000 in saving accounts or assets. There are good reasons why most states ignore the asset test. While Maine says it’s “an abuse to enroll in the system when you’ve got $5,000 in the bank”, most anti-poverty advocates recognize that not being able to save money keeps people in a cycle of poverty. Students who worked to save money for tuition instead of putting themselves in debt with student loans would have to choose to use that money to eat instead of pay tuition. Families saving money for a down payment on a house because the rent is too damn high and having a mortgage payment will actually relieve their financial burden have to kiss that dream goodbye. And how does one get off assistance ever? If you can’t build your own safety net, you need to rely on the one the government has in place.
Besides, if someone is in dire need of assistance and is denied help because of assets, it’s only a matter of a few months before they utilize all those assets to live off of and then they’re still going to end up back at the welfare office needing help after that money is gone. Most people who need money right away when they’re struggling DO liquidate their assets (quite often at a loss) but Governor LePage mentioned “snowmobiles and motorcycles” as the particularly offensive assets. Imagine trying to sell a snowmobile in July when you desperately need food because the state says that’s an asset.