Radio Address: Lessons from the Federal Shutdown

October 23, 2013

(MP3 Audio)

Like most Americans, I hoped politicians in Washington, D.C. would have avoided a federal shutdown. But they failed us. They won?t fool us again.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

During the shutdown, my staff spent many hours preparing for what could have resulted in thousands of layoffs of federally funded state employees, as well as the disruption of services to many state programs.

Commissioners of state agencies took inventory of how many employees would be affected, what services would be impacted and how the state could manage this unprecedented crisis. We immediately contacted the state employees? labor union to keep them informed as the shutdown progressed.

Our main concern was to make sure that any state employees who were laid off would be taken care of to the best of the state?s ability, whether it be providing them financial assistance or guaranteeing they would get their jobs back once the shutdown was over.

The civil emergency allowed me to lift the work search requirement for employees who had been laid off and who would have to seek unemployment benefits.

I declared a civil emergency to give the administration the flexibility to respond quickly to this crisis, and it was dissolved as soon as the federal government guaranteed us that funding for employees and programs was restored.

Sadly, the politicians in Washington, D.C. accomplished absolutely nothing during the 16-day shutdown. They have set th e stage for another shutdown, but we will be ready for it.

With another shutdown looming, we will not waste time listening to political rhetoric. We are taking steps to ensure our employees are protected, and we will be prepared to minimize the impact on state programs and services. Actions, not words, will see us through the next shutdown.

Finally, I will say it again: With a national debt of 17 trillion dollars and permanent gridlock in Washington, D.C., we cannot depend on federal money to pay for Maine government. We must learn to live within our means.

As unfortunate as the shutdown was, we learned a lot from it. Government is not too big to fail its people. The next time the politicians fail us, we will be ready.