Maine people lose when ideological vetoes sustained

May 4th, 2014 

By House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham

182. That’s the number of vetoes Governor Paul LePage has issued since he took office. The number isn’t just excessive, it’s unprecedented.

The governor’s veto spree hit bipartisan, commonsense measures that would help small businesses, veterans, women, children and farmers and fishermen across our state. Instead of working with lawmakers from both parties, he has taken a “my-way-or-the highway” approach that hurts our state.

The governor’s veto spree may make for good editorial cartoons and water cooler conversation, but it’s no way to run a government. Leaders shouldn’t use our difference of opinion as an excuse to stop things from getting done – especially when Maine’s economy is struggling.

The governor is Maine’s CEO, but he’s failed to demonstrate business savvy as he’s issued these irresponsible and extreme vetoes. Time and time again, he’s tried to derail efforts to boost Maine’s workers, small businesses and economy. His failure to lead and solve problems in collaborative way has sent a bad message to the business community.

Maine lags in job creation, and continues to be stuck at the back of the pack. Maine has recovered only about half of the jobs lost in the recession, while New England as a whole has gained back all of them and added more.

Personal income growth remains among the worst in the country. Families are struggling, and one in four Maine children are now living in poverty.

Maine people and small businesses are capable of incredible success. But instead of supporting commonsense bipartisan policies that would put more money in the pockets of families and entrepreneurs in Maine, the governor issued ideological veto after veto.

Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature came together to override vetoes of key legislation this week. These were bills crafted through bipartisan cooperation that advance sound policy for Maine people.

We overturned the veto of a $32 million budget – one that reduces wait lists so Mainers with disabilities can access home-care services; keeps nursing homes in rural areas from closing their doors; invests in the early childhood years and boosts job readiness efforts.

We overturned a veto of a small business financing bond, to help promising Maine companies make their plans a reality and create jobs.
Some of the other veto overrides will make it easier for cancer patients to find a bone marrow donor, prevent telecommunications companies pushing fees on customers without legislative review and make the worst drunk drivers on our roads more accountable.

We did all these things despite the governor’s attempts to derail them. I’m proud of these veto overrides. But far too often, some of my colleagues who had voted for a bill before later caved in to the governor’s veto.

The governor said no to helping out our farmers and fishermen and to growing our local food economy. He said no to Maine women who need and deserve access to critical health care services like cancer screenings, annual exams and birth control. He said no to health care for 70,000 Mainers, including three thousand Maine veterans. And where the governor won, Maine people lost.

As the Bangor Daily News pointed out, “This many vetoes erodes people’s faith in the process, harms the state’s reputation and only makes Maine look less attractive to businesses, which need and want predictable and productive government.”

Obstructionism is no way to lead. Maine’s economy deserves better, and our people expect more from the CEO of our state.