Governor and Legislators Agree to Address Bonds and Riverview during Special Session

August 28, 2013

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Aug. 28
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – After a productive discussion Wednesday morning, Governor Paul R. LePage and Democratic and Republican leadership agreed on a course of action for tomorrow’s special session. Attending a meeting in the Cabinet room, which lasted about a half hour, were Senate President Justin Alfond, House Speaker Mark Eves, Senate Republican leader Michael Thibodeau and respective senior staff members.

Governor LePage issued a proclamation on Wednesday, Aug. 21 to convene the Legislature for a special session. The Governor prompted the session to address a bond package of $149.5 million for infrastructure improvements and the situation at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, which may lose its certification and federal funding because it is not authorized to manage the growing number of patients who exhibit criminal behaviors.

However, the Governor did speak with Democrats about their plan to raise unrelated issues during the special session, including a bill to reopen a Maine Revenue Services office in Houlton. While the decision to close the office was regrettable, it was a decision within the purview of the administration, said Governor LePage. He added that the administration will improve its communications to legislators regarding state government position eliminations, but that the special session was not the way to address the issue.

“The recent closure of a Maine Revenue Services office in Houlton was a difficult decision made by the administration,” Governor LePage said. “Legislators have rightfully questioned the decision to eliminate 9 jobs, particularly at this time in an economically depressed region of the state, and we agree. The situation was made more difficult because the administration did not discuss the decision with legislators who represent Aroostook County in advance.

During the meeting with President Alfond and Speaker Eves, Governor LePage committed to communicating in advance about future position eliminations that are required to balance the state budget, within the bounds of the employee notification requirements in the collective bargaining agreement.

“We also commit to seeking the least burdensome options that will have minimal impact on employees, particularly in our state’s most economically challenged counties,” said Governor LePage. “Though additional difficult decisions will need to be made in the future as we seek efficiencies and budget savings, by working together and communicating, we are optimistic that we can minimize the impact on state employees.”

On Wednesday morning, the Legislative Council considered matters for Thursday’s special session deciding to hold three bills unrelated to bonds and Riverview.