Update From Today’s Bangor Daily News:
Mainers with assets topping $5,000 and who don’t have children will be ineligible for food stamps under a new plan announced Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The assets to be counted, if the new rule is applied, will include bank account balances, snowmobiles, boats, motorcycles, jet skis, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles, campers and other valuable assets, according to a news release. The $5,000 asset test, which is defined in a federal law but which has been waived in Maine in recent years, will not include the value of a household’s primary vehicle.
A public hearing on the proposed new rule, which would apply to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is scheduled for Oct. 6 in Augusta.
“Most Mainers would agree that before someone received taxpayer-funded welfare benefits, they should sell nonessential assets and use their savings,” said Gov. Paul LePage in a written statement. “Hardworking Mainers should not come home to see snowmobiles, four-wheelers or jet skis in the yards of those who are getting welfare. Welfare is a last resort, not a way of life.”
DHHS estimates that the rule change would affect about 8,600 people who are on food stamps. Maine has already reduced the number of Mainers collecting food stamps with a rule implemented by the LePage administration that requires able-bodied 18- to 49-year-old adults to either be working or in an active job search in order to receive food stamps.
“When people see that some are using welfare as a first line of defense to keep their boats and motorcycles, rather than using welfare as a safety net, it hurts the public perception of the program,” said DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.