The “Hospital Repayment and Reform” plan would pay hospitals in full by September 30, 2013, from the financing of the state’s liquor contract. The plan also institutes needed reforms to help prevent outsized medical bills in the future to provide sustainable healthcare for more Maine families.
“Democrats have always been focused on repaying the state’s debt to the hospitals–even during the worst recession of our lifetime,” said Senate President Justin Alfond, when the Democratic plan was unveiled . “It’s important to remember that this issue is not just about debt, it’s also about high health care costs. And, any plan to pay off debt to the hospitals should also address the cost drivers and reforming our system to prevent this debt from building up again.”
Most patients can’t decipher much of their hospital “costs” listed on their bills, an in-depth Time Magazine report explains how hospitals arbitrarily increase costs. In the article a patient diagnosed with lung cancer was charged $77 for just a box of gauze, which retails for $12.95.
Over $3.7 billion has been paid to hospitals from state and federal funding since 2003. The debt started under a Republican governor, continued through the King Administration and only began being repaid with the Baldacci administration. LePage followed Baldacci’s lead.
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Tags: Economy·Government transparency·Jobs
During the last session of the Maine Legislature, Gov. LePage and the Republican majority of the Maine Legislature passed the largest tax cut in Maine’s history. Wow, doesn’t that sound great. We should all throw kudos at him. Wait a minute, the biggest benefactors of that cut were the 1 percent of who are the wealthiest Mainers. For the vast majority of us, we got the crumbs.
Surprise! He is now operating the state with a shortfall of tax revenue. Why am I not surprised? He apparently doesn’t care as his budget proposal ends what was helpful to those of us property tax payers at the municipal level. Property tax is the most regressive tax there is for it matters not if you are on a fixed income. Apparently, he doesn’t care, as long as he’s taking care of his rich buddies. Well I do care as we are in desperate need of a fair share economy!
When the mayors of Lewiston and Auburn were questioned about the governor’s budget, this is some of what each had to say. In the Sun-Journal, 1-16-13, Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte was quoted as saying “the budget discussion could make it the perfect time to reconsider sharing services with Lewiston.” Mayor Robert MacDonald, a staunch supporter of Governor LePage, was quoted as saying: “The state is broke,” Macdonald said. “We can play the blame game back and forth, but that is not going to put money in the coffers, I’m not going to sit up there and preside over a crying contest.”
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The local legislative delegation, including Sen. Linda Valentino, Rep. Barry Hobbins, and Rep. Justin Chenette have all expressed concerns over Gov. LePage’s two-year budget which was released last Friday.
The governor’s $6.3 billion proposed budget will eliminate state funds for programs that help the elderly pay for medicine, gut property tax relief, and cut state funding to cities and towns, hurting thousands of Maine families and stifling the state’s weak economy.
“The Governor didn’t come out with a thoughtful comprehensive budget and instead is seeking to inflame a partisan divide amongst key constituencies,” said Sen. Valentino. “Having served on the Appropriations Committee in the House, I want to assure people that by the time the legislature votes, the budget will look nothing like what is currently proposed by the Governor.”
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Changes in government control herald new ways forward for the economy
President of the Maine Senate Justin Alfond with Gov. LePage at the podium on the day of the swearing in of the 126th legislature
CHANGING PRACTICES IN GOVERNMENT & BUSINESS —
• Changes in government control herald new ways forward for the economy. What will happen this session in Augusta?
• Majority-led Democratic Legislature says they want to grow the middle class & strengthen economy
• Maine’s new constitutional officers will support the majority of Mainers and oppose many of LePage’s policies
• LePage’s budget proposal shifts costs to people who can least afford it, raises taxes, and could cripple Maine’s economy
• Federal Government rejects part of LePage’s MaineCare reduction plan, saying it’s not legal
• Gov. LePage’s budget curtailment hits the most vulnerable, education, and public safety hard
• Maine moms angry over LePage administration’s BPA recommendation
• Rep. Rotundo honored as Legislator of the Year
Lindsey Glick's first-hand report on working on an organic farm in Maine
• U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree appointed to Appropriations Committee — where government spending is decided
• Rep. Michaud named new ranking member of U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee
• Maine ranks fourth in states were income inequality is increasing the fastest
CREATIVE ECONOMY & COMMUNITIES —
• Life on a Maine organic farm, One Drop, as an apprentice
• India Street in Portland chosen for planning project to support sustainable growth
• Maine same-sex couples get legally married
• Congresswoman Chellie Pingree asks VA for equal treatment for female veterans suffering from sexual disorders
• Casco is Maine’s first town to pass resolution opposing tar-sands oil transportation through state
• Federal $100,000 grant for Portland schools will help expand purchasing of locally produced food
SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY—
The first floating offshore wind turbine in the North Sea, built in Norway by Statiol. Now they plan to build them off Boothby and are sharing research with UMaine.
• Total proceeds for Maine from RGGI are over $34 million; for all RGGI states over $1 billion
• Maine’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard — an incentive for alternative energy growth
• Two DOE offshore wind grants of $4 million each for UMaine and Stratoil projects — with additional phases could get $93 million
• New road maps available for ocean wind, tidal- and wave-energy projects
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH = INVENTIONS & INNOVATION —
• Bigelow Laboratory’s new campus is dedicated – the facility will spur economic growth & innovation
• Brunswick company awarded $150,000 research grant for aquaculture, in December also granted MTI funds close to $250,000
• MTI awards $1,473,925 to 28 Maine companies
• Cap-and-trade policy, RGGI, keeps 12 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere & generates savings
• Construction underway for Portland Technology Park — to help grow the biotech economy
Sen. Snowe, Gov. Baldacci, and Gov. King were praised by Congresswoman Pingree for their bipartisan efforts that helped secure federal and state funding for the Downeaster. Pingree also voted for the recovery act, with Sen. Snowe and Sen. Collins, which gave funding for the Downeaster. Photo by Ramona du Houx.
• Federal grant for ME Port Authority could lead to cargo services for Portland
• Downeaster comes to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine, reviving passenger rail that stopped in 1960
• Portland City Council supports study for transit link to Lewiston-Auburn
• Rail is better plan than east-west highway project, which was named one of the worst highway ideas
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1787
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Tags: Cutting-edge technology·Economy·Government transparency·Jobs
Portland City Hall at Christmas photo by Ramona du Houx
Last night, the Portland City Council unanimously approved a joint resolution supporting a Portland North passenger transit service linking the city with Lewiston and Auburn. The action calls for the three municipalities to study and evaluate the feasibility of developing a transit service linking the communities whether through rail or other high-quality transit service including bus service. Such a service could reduce the number of single-passenger vehicle trips and traffic congestion as well as support regional economic development opportunities. This initiative is part of a broader collaboration between the cities to assist each other in addressing commuting, employment and economic opportunity goals.
“Studying the opportunities for passenger transit service between three of Maine’s largest communities is a great first step,” stated City of Portland Mayor Michael Brennan. “A commuter service could help the city achieve its sustainability and transportation goals by reducing single-passenger trips as well as enhance the quality of life and employment opportunities for residents of the region.”
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Tags: Economy·Maine's quality of life·Transportation
Early morning preliminary Election Day results show a decisive victory for Maine Democrats in the State Senate and House. Democrats have won 19-13-1 in the State Senate and 87-59-4 in the Maine House.
The Maine House Democratic leader Emily Cain, who won her bid for State Senate District 30 after being termed out in the House, said Democrats, would restore balance in Augusta.
“For two years we’ve seen Governor LePage and this Republican allies push a partisan agenda that left our economy and the middle class behind,” Cain said. “Democrats are ready to get to work immediately on reasonable solutions that will strengthen the middle class, rebuild our economy, and get Maine people back to work. Tonight’s victory does not mean that our work is done, it means it’s just beginning.”
Results are still pending in House District 41 and Senate Districts 17 and 28. Senate Democrats picked up key Republican seats in Senate District 3, 17, 22 and 32 and held ground in SD 6 and 20 . Democrats unseated at least 23 Republicans in House Districts, including Brewer, Bangor, Winslow, Harpswell, and Madison.
“Our candidates and volunteers knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors from Kittery to Presque Isle,” said State Senator Justin Alfond, the assistant Democratic Leader. “We’ fielded an incredible group of candidates – doctors, social workers, small business owners and coaches not politicians or party bosses.”
Tags: Economy·Elections·Maine's quality of life
MITT ROMNEY said in all three presidential debates that we need to expand the economy. But he left out a critical ingredient: investments in science and technology.
Scientific knowledge and new technologies are the building blocks for long-term economic growth — “the key to a 21st-century economy,” as President Obama said in the final debate.
So it is astonishing that Mr. Romney talks about economic growth while planning deep cuts in investment in science, technology and education. They are among the discretionary items for which spending could be cut 22 percent or more under the Republican budget plan, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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Tags: Cutting-edge technology·Economy·Elections·Jobs·science
Bob Cushing, a former state employee who lives in Augusta, used to be proud that he never got involved in politics. Working for the King and Baldacci administrations, he never saw any reason to and never had any complaints. All that’s changed.
“My property taxes went up by a $1,000,” said Cushing. “I improved my roof, but most of the increase is because the school needs the money. I never get involved in politics, but this — it gets to me.”
The Washington-based conservative Tax Foundation report ranked Maine 30th for its business tax climate but failed to consider the LePage administration cost shifting policies that have made property taxes increase impacting businesses and homeowners.
In states across the country where Republican governors have cut taxes for the wealthy, they have to deal with less money to pay the bills. Maine is no exception, and much of the cost shifting that has occurred here because of tax cuts made by the Republican-controlled Legislature have hit school budgets across the state, forcing towns to raise property taxes.
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Tags: Economy·Government transparency·taxes
Paul Ryan spoke for 40 of the 90 minutes during Thursday night’s vice presidential debate and managed to tell at least 24 myths during that time:
1) “It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that [the Libya attack] was a terrorist attack.” Obama used the word “terrorism” to describe the killing of Americans the very next day at the Rose Garden. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” Obama said in a Rose Garden statement on September 12.
2) “The administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough [Iran] sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in spite of the administration.” Even the Israeli President has effusively praised President Obama’s leadership on getting American and international sanctions on Iran, which have significantly slowed Iran’s progress.
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Tags: Economy·Elections·Government transparency
Ken Fletcher, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office, announced that the Energy Infrastructure Interagency Review Panel (IRP) is accepting Letters of Intent for the possible use of state-owned I-95 and I-295 as corridors for transmitting electricity.
By law, those wishing to receive the project must prove that the project will not impede in-state electricity generation, and also demonstrate that it will lower electricity rates and energy costs for Maine consumers. Project proposals are reviewed on a rolling basis, so anyone wishing to receive this project is encouraged to submit an application to the IRP as soon as possible.
The project uses existing right-of-ways owned by the state, which Governor John Baldacci envisioned would bring the state revenues from renting the land to electricity providers.
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