LePage’s million-dollar consultant is the wrong priority for Maine
Here’s the text of the Maine Democratic Party’s weekly radio address, this week focusing on Governor LePage’s hiring of a Tea Party consultant to review MaineCare.
Most would agree that while the financial crisis is behind us, we have not yet recovered. Resources are stretched. Budgets are cash-strapped. And we are all being asked to do more with less.
In state government, there’s an even higher responsibility to ensure judicious spending—because our budget is a budget of the people, the taxpayer.
Good Morning. This is Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland.
Earlier this week, the legislature, and the people of Maine, read in the newspaper that Governor Paul LePage, paid nearly $1 million to hire a Tea Party consultant to review the state’s health insurance program, MaineCare.
n this time, when every dollar is being stretched, we have to ask, can the state afford to pay $1 million to an out-of-stater to write a report, especially when we already know what that report will say.
In the legislature, when we draft budgets, we expect, and we know, that every penny will be scrutinized—and it should be. Over the last few years, structural changes have been made. And, as a result, we haven’t been able to fund everything we want—or even, everything that needs to be funded.
So why then, is Governor LePage spending $1 million on a no-bid contract, to a man whose stance on MaineCare is already well-known and well-documented? In fact, under his direction, the state of Pennsylvania kicked nearly 90,000 children off of their state-run health care program.
This $1 million-man is cut from the same Tea Party cloth as Paul LePage. And so it’s not clear why we need to pay someone else $1 million to hear the same rhetoric we hear every day from Governor LePage.
The state’s financial priorities need to reflect the priorities of the people of Maine—and not the ideology of one small group in Augusta.
A million dollars can go a long way.
It could go towards providing property tax relief to Maine homeowners.
As we approach another cold, Maine winter, it could go towards fuel assistance for needy Maine families.
It could go towards worker retraining for Mainers who were laid off and haven’t yet returned to the workforce.
It could help more Maine children enroll in early childhood programs like HeadStart. Or, it could provide more free lunches to hungry students.
It could also go towards one of the state’s brewing crises at DHHS: for example, it could ensure patient and staff safety at Riverview and perhaps cure the issues raised by the feds when they took away $20 million from the state.
Or, it could set straight, the bungled MaineCare transportation program so that people can get to their critically needed doctor’s appointments.
But Governor LePage chose none of those options. Instead, he chose to write a check to another ideological warrior who will validate his position of denying and delaying healthcare to Mainers. This man will tell Governor LePage that the state’s run health care program, MaineCare, is welfare—even though MaineCare is health insurance.
In fact, MaineCare is the only way many of Maine’s elderly, disabled, working poor, and children get health insurance coverage. Six weeks from now, 25,000 of these Mainers will be dropped from the state-run health insurance program unless Governor LePage does something.
Instead of $1 million in wasteful spending, I call on Governor LePage to choose a different priority: expand healthcare to 70,000 Mainers. It is the right thing—and smart thing—to do financially and it is the moral thing to do for Maine people.
Thank you for listening. This is Senate President Justin Alfond. Have a great weekend—and Thanksgiving.