Entries Filed in 'Editorials'
Sen. President Justin Alfond discusses the benefits of accepting Affordable Heath Care funds in Maine. photo by Morgan Rogers
There’s an old proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It means that, to help a child reach his or her potential, many people must share their wisdom and influence. Starting with a child’s parents, to her teachers, to the neighbor down the street. Each person has a different perspective and each perspective is important in shaping a child’s view of the world.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to move Maine forward. But, unfortunately, these days, it seems that one man – the Governor – is single-handedly blocking progress on Maine’s most important issues.
On jobs and the economy, energy, education, and health care, the Governor has been the most divisive leader Maine has seen. He has blocked common-sense policies that will help grow our economy and create jobs—even when these policies are supported by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in the legislature. He has distracted us from the real issues we face—often, manufacturing disruption and crisis—one after the other. He seems intent on taking Maine on a race to the bottom and moving Maine backward.
Let’s look at the Governor’s record:
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Tags: Government transparency·Jobs
In the coming days, the state of Maine has an opportunity to pay back the debt owed to our hospitals and contain the rising costs of health care for our people and hospitals. The Legislature will be sending Governor Paul LePage a bill to pay back Maine’s hospitals and to accept federal health care dollars to cover nearly 70,000 Maine people. It’s an offer he shouldn’t refuse.
Democrats have put forward a comprehensive plan that not only pays the debt; we make sure we don’t get back here in the future. Maine’s hospital debt is a symptom of our high health care costs.
As a family physician, I can tell you first hand that when people without insurance get sick, they often end up getting care in the emergency room — where it is most costly. The cost of that care is often picked up by hospitals in the form of “charity care” and then passed on to anyone with private insurance.
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Last year, more than 4,000 Mainers were turned away from Maine’s community colleges. More than 200,000 Mainers started college but left before they completed their degree. And, within a decade, 4,000 jobs could go unfilled if Mainers aren’t trained in high-demand fields like information technology and precision manufacturing. This is just some of the news lawmakers in Augusta learned about the state of Maine’s workforce and business needs.
When we were on the campaign trail, we heard Mainers say that they want to be able go to work, pay their bills, and enjoy their family—and know, that we, as lawmakers, are doing our job— by working together to get results and move Maine forward.
And that is why, four months ago, a new legislative committee was formed to find solutions to close the skills gap and address the workforce needs of our businesses.From the start, lawmakers on this committee got to work in partnership with economic, education, business, and labor leaders from across our state. United in our goal, we sought to target our investments in a way that would strengthen the backbone of our economy: Maine workers and small businesses. Just this week, we celebrated an achievement for our state.
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The LePage administration recently labeled 117 public schools either a D or an F under Maine’s new one-size-fits-all school-grading system. But many of these schools happen to be exceeding expectations making improvements. They have been for years.
For example the East End Community School in Portland is in the middle of a three-year, $2.7-million federal “school improvement grant” and has reported measurable gains in student performance over the past two years. In the most diverse school in the state19 different languages are spoken and 85 out of 425 are new students this year. Many of these immigrates are homeless or/and refugees.
Over and over LePage’s system graded schools that were amongst affluent communities with high marks and low-income neighborhoods received failing marks. These struggling communities often have over 76 percent receiving free meals, many students have challenging lives at home and those school meals are often the only nutritious meals they get. Despite these obstacles these schools have been and are doing better. The social stigma that the LePage administration grades have given these schools doesn’t help the situation. The state already has measurements of achievements for all its schools.
So, why did LePage reinvent the wheel?
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April 27, 2013, The Great Degrader
I’ve been focused on economic policy lately, so I sort of missed the big push to rehabilitate Bush’s image; also, as a premature anti-Bushist who pointed out how terrible a president he was back when everyone else was praising him as a Great Leader, I’m kind of worn out on the subject.
But it does need to be said: he was a terrible president, arguably the worst ever, and not just for the reasons many others are pointing out.
From what I’ve read, most of the pushback against revisionism focuses on just how bad Bush’s policies were, from the disaster in Iraq to the way he destroyed FEMA, from the way he squandered a budget surplus to the way he drove up Medicare’s costs. And all of that is fair.
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Majority Leader Rep. Seth Berry wants to help jobs grow as he and others on the bipartisan workforce committee look to improve higher education, Maine’s downtown communities and small business opportunities. Photo by Ramona du Houx
A budget should reflect our values. That’s why it’s so hard to stomach the budget Gov. Paul LePage is proposing. Maine needs a budget that helps grow our economy from the middle out and allows the middle class to prosper. The governor takes a top-down approach that hurts our elderly, our youth, our small businesses and our middle class. These are not the values of the Maine I know and grew up in.
When the governor unveiled his two-year budget three months ago, he passed the buck to Maine communities and their local taxpayers. He tried to wash his hands of responsibility even as he handed Maine taxpayers a bill for four-hundred-and-twenty-five million dollars. Democrats have been working ever since to prevent the governor from unloading the biggest tax shift in Maine history onto our state’s taxpayers.
A lot of bad ideas went into the governor’s budget. He wants to cut the funds that communities need to keep their roads from crumbling. He cuts important property tax reduction measures, like the Circuit Breaker, that many Mainers rely on. He’s pushing new costs onto local school districts. He even decided to cut a program that helps elderly Mainers afford their prescription drugs.
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School pride. For many of us, regardless of how long ago it may have been since we graduated, we still hold on to the memories of high school pep rallies, athletic events, and school field trips. There were school mascots, school fight songs, and school colors–how many of us wore our school colors even when we weren’t at school?
Perhaps it is through our school pride that we learn, as young adults, that we belong to something, we identify with something, a symbol of what and who is important to us.As the years pass, we now know that school is much more than the bricks and mortar. We may no longer remember the words to the school fight song, but we do remember the teacher who urged us to study a little longer; the principal who remembered our name as we passed in the hall; or the guidance counselor who gave us the courage to take a class that pushed our limits.
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Marie from Bangor has a part-time job that doesn’t provide health insurance. She has a serious heart condition that doesn’t allow her to work full time. Without health insurance for her or her family, she is forced to choose between putting gas in her car or paying her medical and utility bills. Marie shared her story with lawmakers last week in Augusta. Unfortunately, she is not alone.
The story I just told you is a reality for tens of thousands of Mainers who are unable to afford health insurance. A working father who can’t afford to pay for his heart medicine; an older Mainer struggling to pay for prescriptions or food; a veteran who can’t afford his insulin.
Many of you know how frightening it is to be sick and unable to afford go to the doctor. Or to have a loved one in that situation. Maine has an opportunity to change that. We can change the lives of nearly 70,000 people in our state by accepting federal health care dollars under the Affordable Care Act.
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Maine State Capitol. photo by Ramona du Houx
Despite Maine’s cost-shift governor, many lawmakers are determined to work together in Augusta in a bipartisan, Maine way. There are lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who believe the only way forward is to work together, and a number of bills have been passed with a two-thirds majority vote, including the supplemental budget. So much for Governor Paul LePage’s veto threat of not signing any laws unless he gets his way.
Now LePage wants 100 percent of Medicaid funding from the federal government; two years ago he told the president he could, “go to hell,” saying Maine didn’t want any help from Washington, DC. Last year LePage vetoed a research and development bond and refused to release all voter-approved bonds, saying bonds aren’t “fiscally responsible.” This year he has two of his own bond proposals, but he still is holding bonds hostage that could generate over 3,200 jobs immediately. He is demanding the state pay its hospital debt, but at the same time would put the hospitals into debt — by approximately $30 million — if Medicaid reimbursements to the hospitals are cut because of his two-year budget proposal.
While LePage fluctuates between refusing to do something one day and then turning around his position, the Legislature is hard at work.
“We’re still working together despite distractions,” said Maine Senate President Justin Alfond. “We’re focused on the economy and how to grow the middle class.”
To prove the point, the Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future has already proposed a bipartisan bill that outlines a 12-point plan, which represents $11 million in new investments for workforce development.
The lack of positive news about the great economic development issues that have been taking place all across Maine has been frustrating for many communities. With Workforce Committee members listening to community leaders, businesses, and nonprofits, as they visit different regions of the state, there is an air of excitement that accompanies them. These lawmakers are giving people hope in state government, while helping to get the news out to the world that Maine is still a great place to live, work, and play.
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The 2003 decision to lease Maine’s liquor business was both bold and smart.
Today, that debate is raging again. Some politicians suggest the decision was unwise and ask whether we should do it again. It is obvious to me that today’s criticisms of this decision and the company holding the liquor contract are unfair.
Prior to 2003, the state’s liquor business was a mess with an uncertain future.
Projections of future revenue, based upon past performance, did not look good. Agency stores complained about lack of deliveries, shortages and poor selection. Although the business was bringing in about $26 million per year, it was underperforming and growing slowly.
In 2003, Gov. John Baldacci took office facing a nationwide recession and a $1.3 billion budget deficit. Baldacci was committed to balancing our budget without raising broad-based taxes, while avoiding taking an ax to necessary services.
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