Maine's Overdue Welfare Bill: Nearly $1 Billion in Debt Paid, Jobs Created
After promising the people of Maine he would pay Maine's hospitals, Governor Paul R. LePage has made good on that promise. More than 150 days after first introducing his plan to pay Maine's $484 million in hospital debt, the Governor finally had the opportunity on June 14, 2013 to sign LD 1555 "An Act To Strengthen Maine's Hospitals and To Provide for a New Spirits Contract." He did so with little fanfare citing "it's simply the right thing to do."
"Paying our bills is the right thing to do, it's just unfortunate that Democrats waited so long to make the right decision for the people of Maine," Governor LePage said.
On January 15, Governor LePage announced his plan to pay $484 million in unpaid Medicaid bills - debt dating back to 2009 - to Maine hospitals. In March, Democrats proposed a "new" hospital plan, which was rejected in Committee. Democrats also claimed the Governor's bill was unconstitutional before holding the bill up in Committee and refusing to allow a vote. Furthermore, Democrats tried tying Medicaid expansion to the hospital bill in late May, a strategy the Governor vetoed on May 23.
Additionally, the Governor's plan restructures liquor operations and sales to provide a better return on investment and releases voter-authorized bonds.
The comprehensive plan puts nearly $700 million into Maine's economy creating health care and construction jobs, and invests millions to pay for clean water and transportation projects, and starts setting aside money for the state's depleted rainy day fund.