Governor Calls for Special Session to Pay for Legislature’s Unfunded Bills
June 17, 2016
For Immediate Release: Friday, June 17, 2016
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today sent a letter to Legislative leadership, calling for a special session before July 1 to properly fund four bills that legislators demanded the Executive Branch pay for without providing the money to fund them.
“In the last session, the Legislature passed several bills that were improperly funded, apparently in an effort to claim that it didn’t increase government spending,” the Governor wrote in the letter. “The fact is, the Legislature did increase spending because it mandated that the Executive Branch use money already appropriated for other programs to pay for the bills you passed. Four of those bills should be addressed, and by way of this letter, I’m asking the Legislature to commit to come back in special session to work with me to fix them.”
The bills are:
LD 1465 Resolve, To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Conduct a Study of Ambulance Services. This bill requires that DHHS contract with a third-party consultant to conduct a rate study of ambulance services and assess the feasibility of reimbursing for community paramedicine services, but doesn’t appropriate any money to fund it.
LD 1552 An Act To Reduce Morbidity and Mortality Related to Injected Drugs. This bill started out with a fiscal note for $75,000, but the Legislature stripped the funding.
LD 1614 Resolve, To Provide Funding for the County Jail Operations Fund. The LePage administration identified a source of funding for the bill and agreed to cover the 2016 shortfall if the Legislature lifted the property tax cap that restricts how much the counties can raise from municipalities. The Legislature took the money but scrapped the language to lift the property tax cap.
LD 1645 An Act To Address Employee Recruitment and Retention Issues at State Mental Health Institutions. Continued depletion of the Salary Plan to fund arbitrary wage increases to some employees inhibits the Executive Branch’s ability to negotiate in good faith during the next round of collective bargaining with all unionized state employees.
“You may think these issues do not constitute enough of an ‘emergency’ to merit a special session, but I disagree,” the Governor wrote in the letter. “The Maine people deserve to know where their tax dollars are spent and that they are spent in a fiscally prudent way. By burying new spending with obfuscation and gimmicks, we are doing the taxpayer an injustice.”