The Maine House and Senate have passed LD 1877, “An Act to Reduce the Number of Children Living in Deep Poverty by Adjusting Assistance for Low-Income Families,” and the governor has signed the bill into law. As a result, Maine’s current TANF grant account will rise by 20%. 

Currently, Maine’s TANF allowance is the lowest in New England. Rae Sage, Policy Coordinator for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Tribal Populations, recently joined many other Mainers in submitting testimony in support of the bill. 

Her testimony stated that Black children in Maine experience poverty at more than double the rate of their white peers at 31.5% and 12.8%, respectively. She also said that Indigenous children face similar disparities with a childhood poverty rate of 32.4%, and that Black and Indigenous communities in Maine are experiencing food insecurity at a rate two to nearly four times higher than the state average. 

Justice for All, the Permanent Commission’s January 2024 report on priorities for the 131st legislative session, noted that the Commission “envisions a Maine where whatever your zip code, the color of your skin, or the contents of your wallet, you know that your family will be ok —where no matter what hardship you face, you know that you will have food on the table and a roof overhead. Creating a future where all Maine people, our families, and our communities can thrive requires active political intervention into long-standing social and economic processes that feed poverty cycles for rural, racial, Indigenous, and tribal populations.”