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Rep. Kathy Chase (R-Wells)
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Maine House Republicans
Room 332, State House
2 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0002


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For Immediate Release

Date: 02/10/14

GOP Appropriators Say State Employees Compete with Medicaid, Revenue Sharing for Funding

Government employee union members turn out for public hearing on proposal

AUGUSTA - The Maine Legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee on Monday held a public hearing on LD 1639, a bill to give over $15 million over the next four years in merit and longevity pay to state employees, as required by their collective bargaining agreement.

"While the state should always meet its contractual obligations, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so when Medicaid consumes an ever-growing portion of our state budget," said Rep. Kathy Chase (R-Wells), ranking House Republican on the Appropriations Committee. "For too long, Augusta has made too many promises—promises to the Medicaid system, to municipal governments, to schools, and to state employee labor unions. It's time for state government to be more realistic and responsible when it comes to the obligations it puts on the backs of taxpaying families."

In 2011, in a move to bring that responsibility to the state's finances, then-majority Republican lawmakers and Governor Paul LePage eliminated over 40 percent of a $4.1 billion long-term state pension shortfall with reasonable reforms to a pension system that had been a vehicle for promises made by Democratic politicians to state employee unions that had no realistic means of being kept.

"Right now, we have a $100 million-plus budget shortfall, 3,100 severely disabled Mainers on wait lists for Medicaid services, and towns worried about revenue sharing cuts," said Rep. Tom Winsor (R-Norway), also of the Appropriations Committee. "State employee labor unions are competing for scarce state dollars and we must balance all of our priorities."

The state budget passed into law last year lifted the freeze on merit and longevity pay for state employees, which had been in place since shortly after the 2008 recession began.

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Contact:
David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793