Entries Filed in 'Budgets'

Will LePage continue to hold Maine back by vetoing innovation bonds and healthcare?

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Editorials, Issue 40

Maine's capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Other New England states have recovered almost all the job losses due to the Great Recession. Maine stands alone as the only east coast state that has built back less than half the jobs caused by the economic crash. Not the kind of reputation Maine needs, and most of blame falls at the feet of Governor Paul LePage with his dangerous policies and way of governance.

He hurts the state’s reputation by putting down the people of Maine and discourages businesses owners who may be looking to Maine to locate in. He has publicly badmouthed the President, Maine lawmakers, women, students and children. A governor should be promoting the great qualities the people Maine have— their tireless work ethic, hospitality, ability to be easily trained and their community mindfulness. Not to mention the amazing natural attributes the state has from mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and a 2,000-mile long coast.

Last year the Legislature approved bonds for infrastructure improvements and the people of Maine voted for them. This year LePage used these bonds as a bargaining tool by refusing to release them until he got what he demanded. Meanwhile thousands of construction workers were delayed from working. They had to wait until LePage was done using them as pawns.

This year a new $40 million innovation/small business bond proposal was approved by the Legislature.

Read more ›

Tags: ·

Budget eliminates and reduces DHHS wait lists for people with disabilities, ups reimbursements for struggling nursing homes

April 9th, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Capitol news, Health Care, Issue 40

Early Wednesday morning, lawmakers on the state’s budget-writing panel, the Appropriations Committee, unanimously endorsed a roughly $30 million budget proposal.

The funding measure closes a MaineCare shortfall in fiscal year 2015, while also funding $5 million for services for people with disabilities on the DHHS wait lists and $5 million in additional reimbursement for Maine’s struggling nursing homes.

“Our bipartisan proposal provides critical funding for our seniors, individuals with disabilities, and for those suffering from mental illness,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo. “For months, lawmakers have emphasized the importance of moving our most vulnerable citizens off of wait lists for homecare. At the same time, we’ve also heard from our nursing homes about the crisis they face, especially in rural areas, where some may be forced to close their doors. We took a responsible and collaborative approach to address both of these concerns.”

The funds would eliminate and reduce the wait lists, allowing hundreds of individuals with severe disabilities to get critical home based care services. It also provides $2 million for critical services required under the state’s court ordered mental health consent decree and increases funds for safety and security at Riverview and Dorothea Dix by $908,460.

“We’re grateful that the Appropriations Committee understands the value and services Dorothea Dix offers, being one of only two hospitals that help with the challenges our mentally ill face. However, the facility has not recovered from the state’s last cuts and we need to further enhance this unique asset’s mission by reopening and admitting more patients. The need has been clearly documented, now it’s time for the state to take real positive action protecting the health and wellbeing of our citizens and their communities,” said Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci.

Read more ›

Tags:

Maine lawmakers kill LePage’s TABOR 3.0 Bill- which would have left a $100 million budget hole

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Capitol news

 Governor Paul LePage’s bill to resurrect the TABOR ballot initiative on Thursday was dealt a final blow.

In a vote of 86 to 55, the Maine House joined the state Senate in rejecting the irresponsible measure.

“The Governor’s proposal is TABOR 3.0. The people have already rejected this twice before,” said Rep. Seth Berry , the House Majority Leader. “This is nothing more than a campaign gimmick.”

Maine voters previously rejected TABOR proposals on the ballot in 2006 and 2009.

Read more ›

Tags:

Maine’s compromise bipartisan budget bill becomes law

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Capitol news

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

A compromise bipartisan bill to close a gap in the state’s two-year budget became law today without the Governor’s signature. LD 1843, closes a $40 million gap in fiscal year 2014 and a $18 million gap in fiscal year 2015.

“Our bipartisan budget pays our bills, protects critical education dollars, and keeps our commitments to our workers,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, the House Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “Maine people can count on lawmakers to work together to solve our problems and show leadership even when the Governor is unwilling to do so.”

In an unprecedented move, Governor Paul LePage refused to propose a budget despite shortfalls at his Departments.

The budget restores Governor Paul LePage’s proposed cuts to K-12 funding, the early education program Head Start, and higher education. It also funds merit and longevity pay increases for state employees, which were previously negotiated but unpaid for by the Governor.

Read more ›

Tags:

Lawmakers pass budget shortfall and replenish rainy day fund with compromise measures

March 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Capitol news

Maine’s lawmakers pass budget shortfall bill and replenish rainy day fund with compromise measures that now go to Gov. LePage to be signed. The state’s budget writing committee unanimously approved both measures as part of a compromise on Wednesday.

“When we first started our work, our committee faced an unprecedented task to build a budget from scratch with no proposal and limited information from the Governor,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, the House chair of the Appropriations Committee. “Yet we prevailed despite the obstacles. I’m pleased and proud to see strong bipartisan votes on these measures, which pay our bills, protect education, and keep our commitments to our workers. We urge the Governor to sign both bills and finally release the voter-approved bonds.”

LD 1843, closes a $40 million gap in fiscal year 2014 and a $18 million gap in fiscal year 2015. LD 1807, which was proposed by Governor Paul LePage, would replenish the rainy day fund, or the state’s budget stabilization account, by $21 million. LePage has been using the amount of money in the rainy day fund as his latest political excuse to delay more than a $100 million in voter-approved jobs bonds.

“The resounding, bipartisan support of this budget reflects the commitment and responsibility of Maine legislators to pay the bills, and support students, workers, and our most vulnerable,” said Senator Dawn Hill who serves as the Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “This budget was crafted under unprecedented circumstances, without collaboration from the governor. While that’s a shame, Democrats and Republicans overcame this challenge together and stand proud of our work.”

Read more ›

Tags:

Maine’s budget panel unanimously back bill to address the budget shortfall

March 19th, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Capitol news

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Early this morning, lawmakers on the state’s budget-writing committee unanimously endorsed a proposal to address a shortfall in the state’s two-year budget. The committee also reached an agreement on replenishing the state’s rainy day fund.

“We were pleased to be able to come to an agreement that will both pay our bills and prevent cuts to our schools and young children,” said Representative Peggy Rotundo, the House Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “We were able to find common ground and solve our problems despite the challenges we faced with a Governor who refused to collaborate for the good of our people.”

The proposal closes a $40 million gap in fiscal year 2014 and a $18 million gap in fiscal year 2015. The committee also unanimously endorsed Governor Paul LePage’s proposal, LD 1807, to replenish the budget stabilization fund, also known as the “rainy day fund,” by $21 million. Initially, LD 1807 included a compromise amendment that would have restored LePage’s proposed cuts to K-12 funding, Head Start, higher education, and merit and longevity pay increases for state employees previously negotiated but unfunded by the Governor. The committee unanimously agreed to fold in the amendment to the budget bill.

Read more ›

Tags:

LePage’s “Open for Business Zone” hurt unions and drives down wages

March 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Business & Innovation, Economy

Governor LePage announced his “Open for Business Zones” mainly for corporations- as they would require a $50 million dollar investment in the state. Within this proposal is a provision that, for the third year in a row, introduced so-called right-to-work legislation. More than two years ago, the 125th Republican-controlled Legislature, rejected his plan.

“This is another divisive political stunt from Governor LePage. “Right to Work” isn’t what it seems. It’s a ploy to make it easier to move workers into part time positions, weaken health and safety protections and pay people less,” said Don Berry, President of the Maine AFL-CIO.”

Research has found that both union and nonunion workers earn $1,500 less per year in so-called right-to-work states than in states that allow unions. Additionally, researchers have found that employees are less likely to receive healthcare and pension benefits through their jobs in right to work states.

“Gov. LePage’s plan does nothing for Maine’s working families,” said State Senator Emily Cain, who is running for the U.S. Congress. “He is putting a catchy title on a proposal that will be a disaster for middle class Mainers trying to put food on the table. I am outraged at the constant attempts to take opportunity away from Maine people.”

Read more ›

Tags:

LePage’s “Business Zones” are a form of corporate welfare the state can not afford

March 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Business & Innovation, Capitol news

Gov. John E. Baldacci with workers at a lumber company celebrating the company's Pine Tree Development status. photo by Ramona du Houx

Gov. John E. Baldacci with workers at a lumber company celebrating the company’s Pine Tree Development status. photo by Ramona du Houx

At an event today in Brunswick, the Governor Paul LePage announced his “Open for Business Zone” proposal.

LePage is using Governor John Baldacci’s established Pine Tree Development Zone (PTDZ)tax incentive program- that has added thousands of jobs to Maine — as the backbone to his so called Business Zone inititive. But there is a major problem with LePage’s Open For Business Zones– they would exempt employees from paying union dues, thus limiting union representation. Many businesses agree that the Pine Tree Zone program helped them set up shop in Maine and allowed Maine businesses to expand. Most businesses in the Pine Tree Zone agree that PTDZ’s work and should be left as they are. Some are worried how LePage may change the PTDZ program.

LePage’s proposal is designed for corporations and limits unions. They will expand corporate benefits to businesses that invest at least $50 million and create 1,500 jobs. The bill also would allow businesses access to a pool of up to $500 million in bond funding from the Finance Authority of Maine and offer more workforce training.

The BIG difference between PTDZ’s and LePage’s Business Zones are what types of businesses will benefit. PTDZ’s helped over 322 companies set up or expand in Maine– from lumber companies to T-Moble. LePage’s “Open for Business Zones” are for big corporations that will invest over $50 million. A 20-year corporate income tax incentive would include a 100 percent income tax credit for the first 10 years and a 50 percent credit for years 11 to 20. Something the state’s budget can not afford to take on. PTDZ’s are for 10 years (see below for their benefits)

LePage’s Business Zone proposal is his third attempt to introduce so-called right-to-work legislation. For many they are nothing more than cooperate welfare zones that limit workers rights.

“The question we have to ask is why does Governor LePage want to lower the wages of Maine people?,” said State Senator Stan Gerzofsky. “The governor may call this right to work but I call it right to work for less. All this does is give CEOs the right to pay workers less and deny them access to healthcare and retirement. It seems to me this is not something for Governor LePage to celebrate when he ranks dead last for private sector job growth.”

Read more ›

Tags:

Lawmakers propose new bill to get rid of LePage contract that wastes taxpayer dollars

February 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Capitol news, Community Maine, Health Care

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Leading lawmakers on the state’s Health and Human Services Committee on Monday introduced a proposal to cancel the state’s $1 million no-bid contract with the controversial consultant Gary Alexander. The bill comes as lawmakers look to fill an estimated $70 million budget hole for fiscal year 2014.

“This is just one more in a tragic series of management errors from Governor LePage that is costing Maine taxpayers lots of money with little positive outcome,” Rep. Richard Farnsworth, the House Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “This kind of mismanagement has got to come to an end and this is where we need to start.”

Alexander was hired by Governor Paul LePage to study the state’s safety net programs and Medicaid expansion. The first report from Alexander’s consulting firm, was a month late, contained seriously flaws, and a $575 million error. As Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Alexander’s mismanagement and failed policies cost Pennsylvania taxpayers $7 million and resulted in 89,000 children losing health care.

The state has already paid Alexander $185,040 from federal and state dollars designated to help struggling families who are forced to turn to the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Read more ›

Tags: ··

Bill to prevent further unnecessary property tax hikes wins initial approval in House: 114-21

February 6th, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Capitol news, Community Maine

A measure to prevent further unnecessary property tax hikes wins initial approval in Maine State House by a vote of 114-21.

“This is the first step in a long process of just trying to maintain revenue sharing where it is now. While it has been substantially reduced from previous years, without this legislation revenue sharing would be virtually eliminated,” said Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci.

LD 1762 would prevent further property tax increases for Maine communities and local property taxpayers by protecting $40 million in revenue sharing funds. If the Legislature does not blunt cuts to revenue sharing, funding for towns will continue to decline by at least 79 percent by 2015.

The loss would result in $29.8 million in cuts to local education and a $10.8 million increase in property taxes on business. Under the LePage administration, state revenues have increased, but revenue sharing funds for towns has plummeted dramatically forcing lay offs in cities and increased property taxes.

Read more ›

Tags: