(UPDATED) Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Announcing Plans to Veto Bipartisan Appropriation Committee’s Approved Budget
(UPDATED: Earlier today, the following letter was sent to Maine State employees from the Governor’s Chief of Staff. ~AP)
June 07, 2013
Dear State Employees,
During the past few weeks, there has been misinformation provided to State employees from the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA) regarding a shutdown of State government. I am writing to bring to your attention that Governor Paul R. LePage has not ordered, nor does he have the authority to order a government shutdown. The rumors are simply erroneous and it is disheartening that the union leadership would be so disingenuous to threaten hard working State employees by saying their jobs are on the line because of Governor LePage.
Governor LePage and I sincerely appreciate all the hard and good work you do on a daily basis, and we recognize the enormous amount of stress that accompanies uncertainty. Having job security is important to knowing you will have a paycheck to put food on the table. It is unfair for anyone to tell you a shutdown is imminent when it is not based on fact.
The Governor submitted a balanced budget on January 11, 2013. At the time, he said, “There is no doubt about it – while there are a few bright spots in this budget, these were not easy decisions to make. But in the long-run, these choices are necessary to protect the future of our children and grandchildren, and create a plan for spending your tax dollars that is fiscally responsible and will set us on the path to recovery.”
Legislators had a balanced budget proposal in front of them for 146 days before they finally made changes and voted it out of the Appropriations Committee early this morning. Governor LePage repeatedly emphasized the importance of prioritizing this budget to ensure it would not result in last-minute decision-making and rushed decisions. Unfortunately, this did not happen.
While the budget has yet to be submitted to the Governor, when it is, he will have ten days to review the document. Just as each of you pay attention to the details in your job, the Governor pays attention to the details of the bills before him. It is our understanding there are many changes to the $6.4 billion budget, and the Governor will need this time to evaluate each piece. It is the Governor’s hope that Democrats and Republicans alike appreciate the situation we currently face, and that we can work together to find a way to balance a budget with the best interest of all Mainers in mind.
Chief of Staff
John McGough, Chief of Staff
Office of Governor Paul R. LePage
1 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0001
(Note: This week’s address by the Governor, sent out this afternoon without embargo, was entitled “A budget for more taxing, more spending”. All stresses and links are my own additions. ~AP)
Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.
Folks, I am a fiscal conservative. I believe that smaller government, lower taxes, limited regulation and free enterprise will put our state on the path to prosperity and success. These are not just words to me.
These are the principles that I live by. In my personal life and in my business career, I made tough choices and difficult decisions based on these principles and my integrity. I followed these principles as mayor of Waterville and now, as Governor, these same principles guide my decisions.
It is very hard to make the right decision. It is much easier to go with the flow or make decisions that don’t disturb the status quo.
But I don’t operate that way. Past governors avoided tough decisions because they were more concerned with the next election, rather than the next generation of Mainers. That’s how we ended up with a state government that spends more money than it takes in.
Maine does not have a revenue problem; Maine has a spending problem. We spend more on government than we have money to pay for it. We are victimizing the taxpayer to pay for government greed, and we are ignoring our most needy, our disabled and our elderly.
Five months ago I submitted a balanced budget. Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves have blasted my proposal, but they have offered no solutions. Now time is running out. So they are going to do what they always do. They are going to raise taxes to avoid making tough decisions.
They don’t want to eliminate fraud and abuse in welfare, and they don’t want to right-size government. So we must find other areas to cut spending or reduce the size of government. That’s why I proposed eliminating revenue sharing.
Revenue sharing accounts for only 2 to 4 percent of the budgets in Maine’s largest municipalities. Many Mainers have trimmed their household budgets far more than that over the past few years.
But property taxes have doubled in the last couple of decades. Cities and towns are part of the problem. If they want to hold the line on property taxes, then they must make the tough decisions, too.
The growth of government must stop. Maine taxpayers are maxed out. We must look at the bigger picture. If we do not stop raising taxes and growing government now, we may never get the chance again. We cannot increase the burden we are leaving our children and grandchildren.
That’s why I will veto any budget that raises your tax rates. I don’t see it as politics. I see it as good public policy, and good public policy is good politics. I am not worried about the next election. I’m worried about the next generation.
I made the tough choices when I submitted a budget that is balanced. It was not a pleasant process, but it had to be done. We cannot keep taxing and spending, year after year. Mainers just can’t afford it.
Folks, let me be clear. I do not want to shut down government. A shut-down is an act of failure. It is a failure to do the right thing for hard-working Maine families. But it is not up to me. It is up to Senate President Alfond and Speaker of the House Eves.
I proposed a budget based on the principles that I believe in. It is a budget that allows the state to live within its means. It is a budget that puts Maine people before politics.