Gideon bill aimed at reducing child poverty

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FREEPORT — Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, has introduced a bill aimed at reducing child poverty in Maine.

Considered her signature legislation and one she has worked on since February, the legislative directive is known as LIFT – “An Act to Reduce Child Poverty by Leveraging Investments in Families Today.”

Gideon presented the bill Monday, May 8, to the state’s Health and Human Services Committee.

The bill’s text calls for helping families get ahead by helping children, the state’s most vulnerable citizens, according to a prepared statement.

“The percentage of Maine children living in deep poverty — less than $10,000 a year for a family of (three) — has increased at a rate (eight) times greater than the national average. While our state’s deep poverty rate for children has soared relative to other states, Maine has stockpiled over $150 million in federal funds that could and must be used for families with children living in poverty. This initiative will stabilize families by ensuring basics like housing and heat, create economic opportunities for families to get ahead, and make it easier for people to get back to work,” the release notes.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary C. Mayhew opposes the legislation. A comment from the commissioner or a spokesperson could not be obtained.