Maine Gov. Le Page vetoed budget that eliminates and reduces DHHS wait lists for people with disabilities, ups reimbursements for nursing homes

Bu Ramona du Houx - April 27th, 2014 

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Governor Paul LePage’s vetoed a $32 million budget fix. The funding measure eliminates waitlists for care for people with disabilities and will help prevent nursing homes in rural areas from closing their doors.

“Republicans, Democrats and independents in the Legislature came together to do their jobs and pass a supplemental budget. Gov. LePage refused to do his job and was absent from the budget process, and now has vetoed the hard work of others,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “It’s time for such political stunts, gamesmanship and divisiveness to end.”

The measure was passed unanimously in the Senate with a vote of 35 to 0 and by a vote of 133 to 8 in the House.

“For the past two years, Governor LePage has made himself irrelevant to the budget process and this veto letter only proves it. He demonstrates a lack of understanding for what this budget does and how government works. In fact, the very thing he calls a “gimmick” is actually a smart solution and it was proposed by members of his own party,” said Senator Dawn Hill, the Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “I am confident this veto will be overridden. Nearly every lawmaker supported this budget and they will stand by their vote and stand up to another one of Governor LePage’s tantrums. It’s time for the people of Maine to have a real leader to work with.”

Governor Paul LePage refused to propose a budget despite shortfalls at his Departments, refused to allow his commissioners to provide information to the budget committee in public, and provided inaccurate information on the budget shortfall in the Department of Health and Human Services. LePage also never provided a funding source for his drug enforcement plan, which he claims was a top priority.

“Democrats and Republicans worked collaboratively to craft a responsible and life-changing budget for our most vulnerable people with disabilities and for our seniors,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo the House Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “It’s no surprise to see the Governor veto the bipartisan measure. He has refused to participate in solving the state’s budget problems from day one. If he had items he wanted funded or didn’t like our approach, he should have worked with lawmakers.”

The $32 million budget would have:

  • Close a $17 million shortfall in the MaineCare program for fiscal year 2015
  • Provide $5 million to reduce and eliminate the Department of Health and Human Services’ wait lists for people with disabilities to get home care services
  • Increase reimbursement rates for nursing homes by $5 million and provides $2 million for the state’s court ordered mental health consent decree
  • Increase funds for safety and security at Riverview Psychiatric Center and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center
  • Invest in key education and workforce training programs, including $650,000 for the Bridge Year program, $300,000 in funding for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, and $750,000 for Head Start.

Funding for the bill comes from extending payments to health care providers by ten days, saving $20 million. It also sweeps savings found from hospital payment audits, transfers from tax audits, position savings, and unexpended program accounts for Dirigo Health, the Finance Authority of Maine, and the House Opportunity Maine.

Lawmakers will reconvene on May 1 to consider all vetoes.