Gideon’s LIFT legislation, along with Rep. Trey Stewart’s STEP legislation, were both enacted by the House and Senate today

AUGUSTA – Speaker Sara Gideon’s bill LD 1774“An Act To Reduce Child Poverty by Leveraging Investments so Families Can Thrive” (LIFT) today earned the unanimous support of both the Maine House and Senate. LD 1772“An Act To Secure Transitions to Economic Prosperity for Maine Families and Children” (STEP), which is sponsored by Rep. Trey Stewart and co-sponsored by Gideon, also earned the unanimous support of the Legislature.

Together, these two pieces of legislation make up the Invest in Tomorrow bill package, which seeks to help families in poverty meet their basic needs and ensure economic opportunities are accessible once those families are stabilized and able to take advantage of them.

“We have the chance to make real, positive change in the lives of Mainers experiencing poverty—for families who are struggling and only want better, brighter futures for themselves and their kids,” said Gideon. “If we make the investments that are called for in these bills, we’re going to see the dividends pay off in a big way for our State’s economy today and in the years to come.”

Gideon’s LIFT bill will address the MaineCare “benefits cliff,” put in place transparency measures at the Department of Health and Human Services and give more families access to TANF benefits by eliminating the “Gross Income Test.” Once a family’s most basic needs are met, LIFT proposes to expand the ability of parents to get training, education, and acquire new skills that will ultimately qualify them for good jobs that pay a decent wage, all while we increase the number of skilled workers and help address the workforce shortage that we so often hear about from businesses and employers in our state.

Stewart’s STEP bill will reduce the benefits cliff for TANF recipients, address the SNAP benefits cliff, provide funding for whole-family economic security initiatives to apply for grants from DHHS, and enable TANF recipients to count time spent pursuing their GED toward their work requirements.

Last week, the Bangor Daily News editorialized in favor of both bills, writing “two of Maine’s legislative leaders, encouragingly, have teamed up on complementary anti-poverty legislation that, in a way, also take on a pro-workforce development element for their efforts to address several of these benefit cliffs with more incremental approaches,” and that “working to address these benefits cliffs is a step in the right direction.”

Gideon’s LIFT and Stewart’s STEP bills both have Democratic and Republican co-sponsors.