I was astonished to read in a recent letter from Stephanie Hawke of a “current giveaway program that provides free automobiles for welfare recipients.” No such program exists.
Because there is no consistently available public transportation in this part of Maine it is practically impossible for workers to have jobs at any distance from their homes. In the service sector exemplified by Boothbay most of the jobs are seasonal. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic many of them disappeared entirely. As the treasurer of the Boothbay Region Food Pantry, I know that such a program would certainly be of interest to some of our clients, but, despite Hawkes’s claim, there is no evidence of its existence..
Under the LePage administration there was a proposal to use Federal funding for such a program but it did not go through. Under the Mills administration a similar proposal might. There was considerable chatter on Facebook, etc. about the likelihood that recipients would sell the cars and could not be prosecuted for doing so. This is untrue. There are grave penalties for any welfare fraud.
Maine needs a better public transportation system. It has to be affordable and available for the use of the population throughout the state. Until this is a reality I think the proposal that cars be provided to those who need to get to work is worth serious consideration.
But it is not a current giveaway.