Blumenthal cites Maine's welfare reforms as model for Illinois
Martin "Marty" Blumenthal, the Republican challenger in the state House District 58 race, recently said Maine's successful welfare reforms could be a model for Illinois.
"If this type of welfare reform is actually showing positive results in Maine, there is no reason not to try it in Illinois," Blumenthal, the Highland Park attorney running against incumbent Democrat Rep. Scott Drury in the Nov. 8 election, said. "Those who say it would not work can be handed a copy of the report about Maine's success."
That kind of success is about more than just money and responsible spending at the state level, Blumenthal said. "It's also about human dignity, not just the huge savings to taxpayers. It's always better when people can pull their own weight."
Maine welfare reforms recently were featured in Forbes, which cited a preliminary report issued by the Maine Office of Policy and Management. That preliminary report attributed more employment, higher wages and less dependency to Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s recent welfare reforms.
Those reforms began in October 2014, when Maine began to require that 16,000 able-bodied, childless adults find work, training or a volunteer position at least part-time to continue receiving food-stamp benefits, Forbes reported. Adults in the program who refused to cooperate with the new requirement lost their food-stamp benefits after three months.
Implementing such a program in Illinois should not be complicated, Blumenthal said, citing one of the more controversial policies implemented by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "If it's OK for Bloomberg to ban large sugary drinks in New York City, then it should be OK to disqualify them from being bought with food stamps," Blumenthal said.
Bloomberg's so-called "big-soda ban" ultimately was overturned by a New York Supreme Court ruling.
Blumenthal has made the state's economy and various related reforms the topic of several public statements since announcing his candidacy for the House District 58 seat. In June, Blumenthal joined with other candidates to call for a state analysis of how Chicago Public Schools' funds are spent. Last month, Blumenthal lamented Illinois' ranking as among the top 10 most tax-heavy states and called for state pension reform and a property-tax freeze.
This month, Blumenthal released his blueprint for turning around the state's economy, and this past week he said that college tuition is going up all over the country because federal money is being spent to hire more administrators.
Blumenthal, an attorney in private practice since 1982 with a concentration in taxation, civil and criminal litigation, and business law, is director of the Chicago Center for Neurological Research and is the director and treasurer of Central Avenue Synagogue, according to his website. Blumenthal also is the incoming director for Children of Heroes.
Blumenthal's opponent, Scott Drury, a Democrat elected to House District 58 in 2013, is a former assistant U.S. attorney who maintains a private law practice and is an adjunct professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.