Final adjournment delayed due to LePage DHHS budget errors
April 14, 2012
AUGUSTA – Early this morning, the Maine Legislature recessed until May 15 when lawmakers will return to take final votes on the governor’s proposed budget cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services for 2013. Votes were delayed on the DHHS budget after lawmakers learned the administration’s figures were inaccurate due to serious computer errors, which allowed more than 25,000 ineligible people to receive health care assistance.
“It’s disappointing that our work has been delayed,” said Senate Democratic Leader Barry Hobbins, D-Saco. “But what’s most important is that we work with trust and confidence that we are getting accurate information.”
The delayed adjournment will require the Legislature to remain in session more than two weeks past the statutory adjournment deadline of April 20.
During the second year of the 125th Legislature, lawmakers passed 197 bills, including many measures that Democrats said would harm middle class families while lining the pockets of out-of-state corporations and big insurance companies.
“We’ve seen one bill after another attacking working people and middle class families, and not a single one will create jobs or get our economy back on track,” said Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House Democratic Leader. “We came here to stand up for Maine people, not out of state corporations and big insurance companies.”
Instead of advancing policies that would have created jobs, Governor Paul LePage and his Republican allies in the legislature stripped the rights of child care workers and workers at the DeCoster factory farm, reduced benefits to severely injured workers hurt on the job, and curbed earned-vacation pay benefits for laid-off workers.
Republicans also blocked legislation that would prevent unscrupulous lenders from foreclosing on Maine homes without proof. They made it easier for insurance companies to jack up health insurance rates, refused to help set up a health care exchange to lower the cost of going to the doctor for middle class families and small businesses, and overhauled land-use regulations that will put Maine’s natural resources and property rights in jeopardy.
“The people of Maine should be outraged that the governor and his allies have done nothing to create jobs or grow the economy,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland. “It is unacceptable and we must hold them accountable for their job-loss record.”
Final votes on the controversial “takings” bill that narrowly passed in the Maine House Thursday will also be delayed until May. The controversial overhaul of the regulatory land-use and development rules would increase lawsuits, pit landowners versus taxpayers, and result in windfall for special interest lawyers.
Prior to adjourning for the year, lawmakers must also still give final passage to 40 measures awaiting funding approval by the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and they may also still consider sending a bond proposal for public investment into roads and bridges to the voters.
“We are urging our Republican colleagues to support critical public investments in roads and bridges and other key areas,” said Rep. Terry Hayes, D-Buckfield, the Assistant House Democratic leader. “We are hopeful that we will be able to vote next month to send a jobs package straight to Maine people for approval.”
Jodi Quintero [Cain, Hayes], 287-1488, c. 841-6279
Ericka Dodge [Hobbins, Alfond] , 287-1515, c. 232-5892