Governor candidates Democrat Janet Mills, Independent Terry Hayes and Independent Alan Caron (A spokesman for Republican Shawn Moody did not return a request for comment)
Governor candidates Democrat Janet Mills, Independent Terry Hayes and Independent Alan Caron (A spokesman for Republican Shawn Moody did not return a request for comment)
With child poverty on the rise in Maine, we reached out to the four candidates for governor to find out what they would do to reverse this trend. Currently, one in five Maine children struggle with hunger, according to the nonprofit Feeding America. The recent surge in child poverty has occurred following the LePage administration’s implementation of a 2011 law placing a 60-month lifetime limit on receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other welfare “reforms.” During that time, the number of Maine children in poverty receiving TANF has plummeted from 52 percent in 2010 to just 19 percent in 2016. Below are responses from Democrat Janet Mills and Independents Terry Hayes and Alan Caron. A spokesman for Republican Shawn Moody did not return a request for comment.

Janet Mills —

“Our goal should be to ensure that no child in Maine ever goes hungry. Right now, we’re far from it — and that’s largely because of the LePage Administration’s misguided approach to addressing poverty. If one thing is clear, it’s that with childhood hunger skyrocketing in Maine while it plunges nearly everywhere else, we need to do something different. As Governor, I would appoint a DHHS Commissioner who understands the true purpose of TANF dollars and who would reorient the program to better serve low-income families. I would also look at working with the Legislature to reinstate a policy that allows some families to be served beyond the 60-month limit, and I would consider changing or eliminating the full-family sanction policy that penalizes children for the mistakes of their parents by completely eliminating their assistance. We can do better by Maine kids and low-income families, and as Governor I will see to it that we will.”

Terry Hayes —

“It is a travesty that children living in poverty are living day by day wondering if they are going to get help to survive. The TANF program should be available for families in need and we must find a way to help them become more self sufficient when possible. As a mother, grandmother and former Guardian Ad Litem, the interests of Maine’s children are extremely important to me. As Governor, I will bring people together from across the political spectrum to keep Maine’s children safe, healthy and prepared to live their lives to their fullest potential. It is critical that any changes to programs assisting our most needy citizens be done in a thoughtful, humane and fiscally responsible way. Arbitrarily setting deadlines and not assessing the need is not the way our government should work.”

Alan Caron —

“We need a governor who neither hates nor loves government but simply wants it to work as efficiently as possible so that all the people who need help are served.

When it comes to meeting the needs of children in Maine, I don’t trust this administration. For seven years, it has been driven by anti-government ideology and partisanship over common sense and decency. It used hammers where scalpels were needed. And it implemented cuts where there should have been expansions of services — especially where vulnerable children are involved — without understanding the longer-term consequences of their actions. We need an economy that expands opportunity for everyone so that over time the demands on government that spring out of poverty decline.”