Governor LePage Uses Veto Line Item “Power”; Throws 125th Adjournment into Questionable Status

Posted on April 14, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Well, so much for the hard-fought compromises achieved in the Legislature moving towards adjournment this week, as the Governor this morning stomped his foot over not getting his way yet again.

Just like in February, Governor LePage earlier this week blustered about and threatened not to sign the DHHS supplemental budget about to be presented to him, despite the fact that it had overwhelming support in both chambers. Via BDN:

“In quick action Friday, the Maine House and Senate voted to finally enact a supplemental budget package for the current biennium which Gov. Paul LePage has said he will not sign.

The House vote of 105-30 was above the two-thirds majority needed so that the budget goes into effect immediately. The Senate vote was 35-0. Such votes would also be enough to override a veto from the governor.”

But apparently that wasn’t good enough for Governor LePage, who saw it as a challenge to his authority and decided to take an extraordinary action, never before taken by any of his predecessors: a line item veto.

It appears Gov. Paul LePage is not giving up on a battle with the Legislature over his supplemental budget package.

LePage on Saturday issued what are known as line-item vetoes on two parts of the budget that passed overwhelmingly through the House and Senate on Friday. It’s the first time a Maine governor has ever used line-item veto power.

BDN goes on to note 2 other interesting points: Line-item vetoes require only a simple majority to overturn. Additionally, with a simple veto, LePage had 10 days to veto. With line items, he had to act quickly, as only 24 hours after final passage by the Legislature is the rule.

Who’s the “spoiled little brat”, now?

Via press release:

Early Saturday morning, Governor Paul LePage chose to line item veto two items in the General Fund Second Supplemental Budget proposal. This is the first time a Maine Governor has used the line item veto privilege. The two measures the Governor vetoed were related to General Assistance welfare funding and Disproportionate Share Hospital funding.

“General Assistance is a welfare program that, like most others, has gotten out of control,” said Governor LePage. “The amounts vetoed will put this issue back on the table and the Legislature must summon the political courage to fix the program structurally. Hiding from our problems will not make them go away. The Maine people expect leadership and those in Augusta must deliver,” added the Governor.

The second item Governor LePage vetoed relates the Legislature’s revisions to the Supplemental Budget involving Disproportionate Share Hospital funding. The federal government has clarified that Disproportionate Share Hospital funding provided in the Medicaid program cannot be used for those involuntarily in secure public institutions, like Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC), as a result of criminal charges. About half of the patients at RPC fall into this category.’

Well, that certainly makes us all safer- nice going there, Governor! Now please explain how cutting $3.17 million in funding to Riverview is in keeping with your statement regarding domestic violence homicides this morning? How does one square claiming to want to help victims on one hand, when on the other one refuses funds to the sole facility in Maine capable of evaluating those already in custody who pose a danger, a problem that has only gotten worse in the past 5 years?

Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee member Rep. Anne Haskell has it right when she recently warned of how these proposed cuts by the Governor would place Mainers at risk. But apparently her wise words carried no weight with LePage and it’s now back to the drawing board for the 125th Legislature.

Here is the letter sent out awhile ago by the Governor’s office:

PLP Line Item Veto Letter

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