- Associated Press - Monday, May 8, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A leading Maine Democrat’s bill takes aim at child poverty by using federal dollars that she says the state is stockpiling.

Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon said during a Monday public hearing that her bill would increase access to child care, transportation and housing. Her bill would increase the monthly temporary assistance benefit and create a program for addicted parents.

Gideon says Maine’s stockpiled over $150 million in federal funds slated for families with children living in poverty.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services says her bill would drain welfare dollars and promote dependence on government.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation estimates the number of Maine kids in extreme poverty increased from 14,000 in 2000 to 19,000 in 2015.

That’s a steeper rise than the nation as a whole.

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