"Welfare" is defined as a government program for poor or unemployed people that helps pay for their food, housing, medical costs, etc.
Liberal politicians say expanding welfare is the compassionate thing to do. But they have not shown compassion for truly needy Mainers who are still on waiting lists for services.
Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.
Thousands of elderly Mainers and those who are mentally and physically disabled have been waiting for services for years. Expanding welfare will not help these folks. Instead, it would give free health care to adults who are capable of working and have no children.
Hard-working Mainers will have to foot the bill for expanding this welfare program. Welfare expansion will cost $800 million over the next decade, and Maine taxpayers would have to start paying millions immediately.
To make up for the cost of providing welfare at reduced rates, hospitals and insurance companies will have to shift hundreds of millions of dollars onto middle-class Mainers who buy their own insurance. That shift will cause their premiums to skyrocket.
Let's be clear. Maine does not get 100 percent federal funding for welfare expansion. Since Maine has already expanded welfare coverage to parents and childless adults, the federal government would give us less money than other states for expansion. Quite simply, expanding welfare is a bad deal for Maine.
Liberals are addicted to federal money and big government, but there is no guarantee that federal funding will always be available. With government shutdowns, sequestration and 17-trillion-dollars in national debt, it would be reckless to bank our children's future on federal money.
Even without expansion, the cost of our welfare program is already crowding out spending on education, roads, law enforcement and natural resources. Welfare spending in Maine has surged by 80 percent in 10 years. It now consumes 25 percent of the state budget, causing in excess of a $100 million shortfall. Liberals want to expand welfare, but Maine can't pay for the program it has now. That's not compassion.
We must reform our welfare program before we could ever consider adding anyone. Expanding welfare to younger adults with no children and no disabilities makes no sense when our system cannot take care of Mainers who need services the most. Adding tens of thousands to welfare is unaffordable and fiscally irresponsible.
Liberals hope to win votes by pushing to expand our welfare programs. But I must show compassion for all 1.3 million Mainers. I must protect our hard-working families from the higher insurance costs and higher taxes that would result from expansion.
It's not about votes or the next election. It's about doing what's right for all Mainers--not just for now, but for the next generation.