Archive for December 1st, 2012

Weekly Democratic Radio Address by Rep. Jeff McCabe (Skowhegan): Budget challenges underscore need to strengthen Maine’s economy, focus on jobs

Posted on December 1, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Audio link here.

jeff mccabeGood morning, I’m State Rep. Jeff McCabe from Skowhegan, the new assistant Democratic leader in the State Legislature.

Thank you for tuning in.

Next week, newly-elected lawmakers will be sworn into the Maine Legislature — and we will have to hit the ground running.

Earlier this week, we learned we already have immediate and significant budget challenges. We are looking at lower than expected revenues and higher than expected costs in MaineCare.

We are ready to roll up our sleeves to work with Republicans on a thoughtful and measured approach to grow our economy and resolve our budget problems.

During the last year, lawmakers from both parties spoke to hundreds of thousands of Mainers and business owners. They expect us to find common ground and get results. Democrats take this charge seriously.

We know the problems we face are too big for one party to solve alone.

The LePage administration tells us that we face a projected $100 million shortfall in the MaineCare budget. While enrollment in MaineCare, the state’s health care program, has been cut during the past two years, costs continue to grow.

We hope we can now have an honest conversation about what is truly causing these continual budget problems within the department and work together to find real, long term solutions, that not only solve our current budget problems but stop them from occurring in the first place.

In order to do this, we need to look at the big picture. We know five percent of the patients who participate in MaineCare – the elderly, disabled, and the very sick – generate 55 percent of the costs. Our solutions must address those cost drivers, not take the easy way out by simply slashing programs and taking health care away from people who need it most.

The best way to do that is through better managing health care, putting a greater emphasis on prevention, and making care more efficient.

After all, a check-up is much less expensive than a trip to the emergency room.

We must make thoughtful and strategic cuts that lower costs not simply shift them.

The sluggish state economy has also left us with a revenue deficit. Sales and corporate income tax are lower than expected because Maine’s middle class is still struggling to make ends meet.

When Maine families have more money in their pockets, they spend it at the local grocery store, the hardware store, and at our small businesses on Main Street – that helps improve everyone’s bottom line from our local shop owners, to our communities, and even the state budget.

The revenue shortfall underscores a larger problem in Maine’s economy. And, it is exactly the reason why the Legislature must get to work immediately on measures that truly strengthen our economy and rebuild our middle class.

We must help put more people back to work. We need more jobs in the short term and we need a blueprint for attracting and maintaining good-paying jobs in the future throughout all of Maine – not just in urban areas. We need a better prepared workforce to meet the needs of today’s employers and the jobs of the future.

We must have a vision for a better Maine.

We have an opportunity and obligation to work with the governor and our Republican colleagues and we are fully committed to doing just that.

Thank you for listening; I’m Rep. Jeff McCabe from Skowhegan.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: LIHEAP An Important Safety Net for Maine’s Most Vulnerable Citizens

Posted on December 1, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

lepage officeOnce again, we are heating our homes and with oil prices at nearly $4 dollars per gallon, many families find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

I have spoken recently about energy costs. Today, I will continue that theme, but instead of addressing the energy industry, I want to talk with you about Maine’s most vulnerable making it through the winter.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, “LIHEAP,” is a federal program to help low-income people pay their energy bills. The Maine State Housing Authority administers this program through contracts with the state’s Community Action Program Agencies (often called CAPS) and involves about 450 fuel vendors, mostly oil dealers, to deliver fuel to the program’s participants.

This is an important program. This safety net keeps many of Maine’s elderly and people living with disabilities and low-income families warmer in their homes through the winter. Without this program, many of these people would suffer needlessly from extreme cold or be forced out of their homes.

I appreciate Senator Snowe’s vigilance in advocating for LIHEAP funding at the federal level. Maine received $34.9 million in LIHEAP funding in November. This represents 90 percent of our total expected funding for this winter. The federal government has held the other 10 percent back in case of sequestration.

My administration is working closely with the Maine State Housing Authority and Efficiency Maine Trust to develop a comprehensive plan to minimize the impact on Maine’s most vulnerable households. In addition to direct heating assistance, these agencies will provide a limited amount of funds for furnace repair and home weatherization, particularly homes heated with electricity.

Unfortunately, the amount of federal funding is likely to stay at a lower level than in previous years. Due to our state’s own fiscal crisis, the State of Maine cannot make up the loss. However, we can make the most of these vital funds to assist the most needy by good planning and efficient deployment of our resources.

My administration, alongside Maine State Housing Authority, has created an energy plan that ensures the highest benefit to those with the lowest incomes and highest heating needs.

Conservation activities are also an important part of our efforts. Maine’s housing stock is the sixth oldest in the nation. Many of our homes lack sufficient insulation and have outdated heating systems. Weatherization efforts help address these challenges and conserve fuel, in turn making the most of our limited funds. However, the state cannot weatherize every home that needs it. This is why volunteer and charitable efforts such as Keep Maine Warm are critical partners in this effort.

Your personal generosity of both your time and donations to local weatherization efforts and fuel assistance programs can help ease the burden.

As we prepare for the holidays and the winter ahead, take a few moments to help another family prepare as well. Small efforts can mean big savings, and everyone benefits.

Lastly, I want to share with you a resource that all Mainers in need of heating assistance can use. The telephone number is 2-1-1. Local resources are available and if you don’t know what they are this is a good place to start. Again the number is 2-1-1.

Nobody should be left out in the cold this season. As Governor, I will do everything in my power to help protect our most vulnerable.

Thank you.

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