December 6, 2011
AUGUSTA – Democratic leaders in the Maine House released the following statement in response to Governor Paul LePage’s proposal to bring the state’s two-year budget into balance after his administration announced a shortfall of more than $200 million.
“The governor has taken the wrong approach to finding common ground with this dangerous and shortsighted proposal,” said Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House Democratic leader. “The proposal puts our economy in jeopardy and undermines public health and safety. It hurts Mainers who are already struggling with absolutely no plan to get people back to work.”
The governor’s budget released this afternoon includes taking away health care for more than 44,000 Maine people and dramatically reduces critical services, like prescription drugs for the elderly and dental care. The proposal also nearly eliminates wide health protections, like the child immunizations, from the Fund for Healthy Maine. These proposals were rejected by both Republicans and Democrats during budget negotiations earlier this year.
The budget shortfall has ballooned from one week to the next with very few details on why the fluctuations keep occurring. Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew told the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee her department was facing a $70 million budget gap for fiscal year 2012 in early November. Two weeks later she told the committee that number had grown by more than $50 million to $121 million.
“We have yet to get an answer on why the Department of Health and Human Services has not been able to get a handle on accurately projecting and managing its costs.” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, the lead House Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. “We won’t be rushed into making any decisions until we have an accurate accounting of the figures.”
Rotundo added, “Once we fully agree on the size of the gap, Democrats are committed to working with Republicans to find a fair solution that is based on a comprehensive review of the entire budget. We won’t help the governor pave the way for tax cuts for the wealthy, while paying for them on the backs of struggling Maine families, the elderly, and the disabled.”
Jodi Quintero [Cain, Rotundo], 287-1488, c. 841-6279