On Tuesday, February 21st and Wednesday, February 22nd Mainers from across the state testified against Governor LePage’s proposed biennial budget, which harms, rather than helps Mainers who are doing their best to make ends meet. Those who testified included individuals like Samarali and Karen.
Samarali’s testimony was in opposition to the Governor’s proposed elimination of General Assistance. Like many Maine families, hers lives paycheck to paycheck. Reflecting on the house fire that left her family temporarily homeless, Samarali testified: “It was a very scary time for us all, as there was no way we could afford to pay for a hotel room for the two weeks after just paying rent days before. General assistance kept that roof over my children’s head when we were at our most vulnerable.”
Karen, who lives in rural Somerset county testified against further limiting assistance provided by the ASPIRE program. ASPIRE allowed Karen to open her now successful small business. She knows that many of the proposed cuts in the budget proposal mean that others in a similar situation will not be able to succeed. Karen said, “Poverty is hard and endless work. When anything goes wrong– if the furnace stops working, the car breaks down, a child is sick – it results in a cascade of other problems. Setting up more barriers will make people’s lives even more challenging. I ask you to reject the proposed changes in the TANF/ASPIRE program that you are reviewing today. Please don’t make the road out of poverty any harder than it is today. Help other participants to find the success I am only now beginning to experience.”