The Governor of Maine, Republican Paul LePage,has been accused of diverting money meant to support programs that were intended to help at-risk kids.
As The Bangor Daily News reports, LePage’s administration is spending “$1.7 million on after-school programs that once would have gone to low-income families with children in the form of cash assistance.” Critics find this deeply disturbing, considering that the percentage of Maine children born into poverty is rising.
“After-school programs don’t pay the rent, and they don’t keep kids in underwear, they don’t keep the parents in underwear,” Luke Schaefer, an associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan, said.
Another issue is that the funds come from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant—a federal program to financially help low-income families. The kinds of programs LePage is funding are ones that teach kids how to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancies (not simply teen pregnancy) and an after-school program run by Christian summer camp Fair Haven Camps.
Samuel Hammond, a poverty and welfare policy analyst at the libertarian Niskanen Center think tank, says that LePage using the TANF as a “slush fund” is troubling.
“To the extent that Maine has diverted money that’s earmarked for poor people and for cash assistance to other things and treated it like a slush fund, it actually harms the longer-term conservative project of federalism,” he related to the Bangor Daily News. “It signals that the state is not a credible steward of federal money.”