January 7, 2014

The vast majority of those who accept assistance from state and/or federal programs are people who had a bad turn in life and just need society believing in and supporting them temporarily. They don’t want to have to live off the State, they are forced to because they need the essentials. The impact that an uncaring society has on the economy is hard to calculate, but it certainly damages our image not to mention the soul of our state to stand by and do nothing to help.

Without programs like Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and low-income tax credits, the poverty rate would rise to nearly 30 percent. According to the Census data, SNAP, (or food stamps, which are the EBT cards) cuts the poverty rate by 1.6 points.

image001Today Governor Paul LePage sent out a press release that attempted to brand recipients of EBT benefits as negligent citizens.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that there are 50,000 EBT transactions per month or 1.2 million transactions in the two year period reviewed by the Governor’s office. The 3,701 questionable transactions identified by the LePage administration account for 0.31 percent of the total transactions during that period. The .31 percent LePage is trying to make headlines over is minuscule compared to the honest sector of EBT recipients. Breaking the law can be remedied by legal action.

“No one wants to see funds meant for struggling families abused. If this list is verified, it’s time to take action,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves. “The question for the governor is will he prosecute or politicize it? Democrats will continue to support good-faith efforts to crack down on fraud and abuse.”

A law passed by the Legislature in 2012 prevented EBT cards from being used at retail establishments where more than 50 percent of sales came from gambling facilities, liquor, and sellers of adult entertainment. Transactions with EBT cards at smoke shops are currently not illegal.