LePage: “If You’re A Refugee, I’m All In- If You’re An ‘Asylee’, I’m Skeptical And I’m Concerned”

Posted on April 3, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

The first question asked of Governor Paul LePage last night directly took on the administration, in regards to the 150 day wait for those seeking asylum in order to be allowed to work. This has been a huge battle between LePage, DHHS and the Cities of Portland and Westbrook for quite awhile now over funding with ongoing litigation.

A theme LePage has repeated for quite awhile now. From his State of the State address:

    “We have limited resources and we have to stretch them as far as we can go. And one of the elements that has a burden in the last couple years has been those who have receiving funds, but they are here illegally. 

    Now, am I compassionate about illegal aliens? Yes, I am. I would prefer that they do it the right way, but it’s very expensive, ’cause I’ve gone through that. We brought a young man here and we did it the right way and paid the bill.  

    But this is the problem with some of the illegals that are here today. When a refugee comes here from a foreign country, they get a medical assessment and we know their health. But when they come here illegally, they don’t get medical assessments. 

    And one thing that we don’t want to see is the uptick of hepatitis C, HIV and tuberculosis. 

    But it is here. We are dealing with it. And it is very costly. 

    So if nothing else, they should be getting a medical assessment when they get here.

    And I believe that my responsibility as your governor is number one to Maine residents first and everyone else second.”

Other Republicans in Maine have been very vocal in their views of those who come to Maine seeking asylum, most notably Lewiston Mayor Bob MacDonald. This last night seems on the surface via LePage’s wording to be a reversal of his previous views on refugees.

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(VIDEOS) AFA/ HHS Public Hearing LePage FY 2016/17 Biennial Budget, Day 2- General Assistance

Posted on March 8, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Here is a copy of DHHS Commissioner Mayhew’s testimony.

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LePage, Portland, Homeless Advocates Battle Over General Assistance

Posted on March 8, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sen. Justin Alfond, Sen. Anne Haskell, Rep. Mark Dion, Rep. Diane Russell, Rep. Drew Gattine , Rep. Peter Stuckey, Rep. Erik Jorgensen, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, Portland City Council Ed Suslovik, Preble St ED Mark Swann, and many others at 2/27/15 Oxford St Homeless Shelter press conference.

Sen. Justin Alfond, Sen. Anne Haskell, Rep. Mark Dion, Rep. Diane Russell, Rep. Drew Gattine , Rep. Peter Stuckey, Rep. Erik Jorgensen, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, Portland City Council Ed Suslovik, Preble St ED Mark Swann, and many others at 2/27/15 Oxford St Homeless Shelter press conference.

At the end of the coldest February on record in Maine, political leaders and homelessness advocates held a press conference in Portland to discuss the needs of some of the region’s most needy and address the attacks by the LePage administration regarding the city’s spending of General Assistance monies.

A reminder: this is part of an ongoing legal battle between Portland/ Westbrook and the state over GA funds.

    Alfond, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and others on hand at the shelter Friday said they can explain why Portland seems to have an outsized share of the state’s General Assistance allocation, but that they can’t get a prompt audience with LePage or DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew to discuss it.

    “We want the coordinated attacks on Portland to end, and the work to make our social services better to begin,”
    Alfond said, pointing out that Portland is not only an “outlier” in its distribution of General Assistance funds but also in that it represents an outsized share of the state’s economy.

    Alfond acknowledged Friday the audit was “troubling” and that Portland’s city officials and state representatives were eager to meet with the administration to discuss ways the city could better administer General Assistance. Brennan said he called the governor’s office on Monday to set up an appointment to discuss the audit.

    “I thought it was urgent, but the first date they gave me [for a meeting] was the end of March,” Brennan said Friday. “Obviously, it’s not as urgent to them as it is to us.”

Governor LePage immediately fired back and issued the following statements via a press release:

    “My quarrel is not with the people who stayed at the shelter,” said Governor LePage. “Mental illness often plays a role there. It’s a matter of who pays. The City of Portland knew these people had this money in the bank, but they decided to bill the taxpayers anyway for years’ worth of welfare reimbursement. Municipalities complain about losing revenue sharing, but then I see abuse like this. When municipalities set priorities that unfairly burden Maine property taxpayers, it’s hard to have sympathy for them. Tax relief should go directly to the property taxpayer, not to fund more government. That’s why my tax reform plan gives money directly to the Maine people by tripling property tax fairness credits, doubling the homestead exemption for those over 65 and significantly lowering income tax rates. The most recent news out of Portland shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it serves as an example of why Maine needs real tax reform.”

This weekend, State Senator Anne Haskell (D-Portland) responded to the governor and administration via the Democratic radio address:

    At 8 p.m. last night it was 12 degrees. And it’s March–not January. Together we’ve experienced one of the longest, most frigid, and snowiest winters in history.

    Good Morning. This is State Senator Anne Haskell of Portland. And, I don’t really want to talk about the weather. But I do want each of us to stop for a second and think about a time this winter: Think about the ten minutes it took you to walk from your office to your car on a blustery cold day. Your cheeks froze. Your fingers and toes hurt and you couldn’t wait to seek shelter from the wind.

    What if you didn’t have a home. If you didn’t have a place where you could crank the heat, pull up the blankets, and settle in with a cup of tea.

    What if, at sun down, you had stand in line for hours with the hopes–not the guarantee–that you could get a mat to sleep on at a shelter. A mat, by the way, that is only three inches thick. A mat that is placed in an open room–flanked on each side by strangers–only five inches from you. Clutching all that belongs to you, in a bag or a backpack.

    Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street Homeless Shelter: We are just trying to keep people alive

    Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street Homeless Shelter: We are just trying to keep people alive

    Mark Swann, the executive director at Preble Street in Portland, said, one day this winter, there were 282 people who showed up for one of the 142 mats. The math on this one is easy: 140 people were left to find shelter elsewhere that night. Some slept on the floor of the soup kitchen down the street. Others, had to sit up in chairs all night at city offices. And, a few others waited at the shelter–hoping a mat would open up. One person waited 11 hours; only to lay his head for two hours before the morning came, and the shelter closed for the day.

    Who chooses this?

    The answer is, nobody.

    Nobody chooses to be homeless. Nobody chooses to be mentally ill. Not one of the 282 people who lined up at the Oxford Street Shelter that night was trying to get away with something. Nobody working at the shelter or the city who is trying to provide life-saving shelter is trying to get away with something.

    At its core, this service of providing EMERGENCY shelter is serving the most basic and fundamental and crucial needs of humanity.

    Yet, in recent weeks, it’s become a political football. The LePage administration has attempted to garner salacious headlines by vilifying the people who utilize the shelter, and also those who provide the service.

    It’s not an easy story to tell. Why? Because we are talking about mental illness. We are talking about diseases like Schizophrenia.

    Recently the City of Portland studied 30 of the so-called “long stayers” at the shelters. What did they find? All of them, 100% had serious and persistent mental health issues–often untreated. Some had money in the bank. Some even had thousands of dollars in the bank.

    What does this mean?

    It could mean many things.

    For some, it means that perhaps a special account was set up by family members to put money aside for them. Perhaps intended to pay for things like dental and medical care.

    For some, it could be the remnant of another time in their life–before they got sick.

    For all, it is money that–because of their psychosis, they are unable or unwilling to use.

    DSC_0132They are not staying at homeless shelters to save a buck. They are staying there because they believe staying at a shelter is the best option available to them.

    And…most importantly, they are not numbers on someone’s spreadsheet. They are our brothers and sisters, our parents, our aunts and uncles. They are our fellow human beings–living much more difficult lives than we can imagine.

    Mental illness is not easy to understand. But it is something that we all need to take a closer look at. We can’t be afraid of it. And most of all, we can’t play the blame-game–that serves no purpose other than to distract and delay from a meaningful solutions-based dialogue.

    Long before this administration, the mental health system in Maine has been broken. The overflowing shelters in our state is one symptom of that–as are our jails–that are also overflowing with people who would benefit more from mental health intervention and treatment.

    As a member of the Health and Human Services Committee and a former member of the state’s Criminal Justice Committee, I can tell you that there are dozens of lawmakers who are interested in solving this problem and helping our fellow Mainers who are suffering. But the first step toward a solution has to be one that is honest.

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Sifting Through the LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DHHS Meets With AFA, HHS

Posted on February 1, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

DSC_0121Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Mary Mayhew along with Alec Porteous and Stephanie Nadeau met with the 127th Legislature’s Appropriations and HHS Committees for three hours on January 22 to discuss the administration’s FY 2016/17 biennial budget as it pertains to the state’s largest agency (Governor Paul LePage’s 2016-2017 Biennial General Fund Budget Proposal can be found here). The entire meeting is below, recorded in five clips.

From a DHHS press release:

    “For years, DHHS has come to the budget committee with news of massive shortfalls that send lawmakers scrambling,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “This time, it’s different. Under Governor LePage’s leadership, we have stabilized spending in the Medicaid program and are no longer managing to a crisis. Instead, the budget proposal tackles some of the Governor’s biggest priorities: nursing home funding, waitlists, primary care, and much more.”

    The DHHS budget proposal identifies significant savings to help fund important new initiatives, with a net request of just over $6 million for the FY 2016-2017 biennium-this out of a total Department General Fund budget of more than $2 billion.

    DSC_0123Among those initiatives are $24 million in additional Medicaid reimbursement funding for nursing homes; $46 million to move elderly, disabled, and mentally ill patients off of waitlists for services; $28 million to improve access to primary care providers; and $14 million to fulfill Maine’s obligation to mental health under the Consent Decree.

    Roughly $11 million in savings from a proposed reform to General Assistance reimbursement to municipalities will be directed specifically to fund services under Section 21 for disabled Mainers on waitlists.

    A total of $20 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine (FHM) will be repurposed away from third-party advocacy organizations and directed to fund increased access to primary care providers for Medicaid recipients.

    After doubling in size, enrollment, and cost in the decade prior to Governor LePage’s first inauguration, Maine’s Medicaid program has since seen enrollment drop from a high of 354,000 in 2011 to 291,000 today. In 2011, 26 percent of Mainers were enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 18 percent of the national population. In 2014, Maine’s Medicaid enrollment matched the national average of 22 percent. “After years spent bailing out the sinking ship of Medicaid, we have finally charted a new course where spending on able-bodied adults is controlled and services for the elderly and disabled are prioritized,” added Commissioner Mayhew. “I am proud to be presenting this balanced budget to the Appropriations Committee on behalf of Governor LePage, whose tenacity and responsible priorities have gotten us where we are today.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

After the conclusion of the meeting, Daniel E. Wathen, Consent Decree Coordinator, met with the two committees to discuss multiple ongoing issues at Riverview Psychiatric Center and answer questions from legislators. The two clips of that meeting are below.

Part 1

Part 2

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(VIDEOS) Maine Governor Paul LePage, Administration Present FY 2016/17 Biennial Budget

Posted on January 13, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The entire press conference here, in order of speakers.

DAFS Commissioner Richard Rosen will be presenting the budget to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee later today.

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Governor LePage Swears In Constitutional Officers

Posted on January 13, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

    Political Pettiness? “Get Over It”

On Thursday, Cathy Breen (D-Cumberland) was finally sworn in to represent Senate District 25, a full month later than her colleagues, due to the recent recount snafu. Governor Paul LePage administered the oath of office in his chambers.

State Senator Cathy Breen (D-Cumberland) is welcomed by Senate after taking oath of office.

State Senator Cathy Breen (D-Cumberland) is welcomed by Senate after taking oath of office.

While this is not unusual practice, what happened later that day most definitely was.

In an unprecedented move, Maine’s three constitutional officers Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Treasurer Terry Hayes and Attorney General Janet T. Mills were informed that by the governor’s request, they would not be sworn into office publicly in the House of Representatives- but rather that LePage would administer their oaths privately in his chambers.

All three had served as Democratic legislators with Hayes serving as House Minority Whip in the 125th Legislature. While Dunlap and Mills still are Democrats, Hayes last year declared herself as an Independent while working as field director for Eliot Cutler’s gubernatorial campaign. This marks Dunlap’s second consecutive term in the office, as he previously served three terms from 2005-10 and returned for the 2013-14 term. Mills, Maine’s first female Attorney General, served from 2008-10 and again from 2012-4.

Terry Hayes was nominated by Republicans Senator Tom Saviello and former Speaker of the House Rep. Bob Nutting when she defeated incumbent Democrat Treasurer Neria Douglass in December. She ran unsuccessfully for House Speaker against Mark Eves in 2012. This is her first term as Treasurer and she made a special request of the governor for a public ceremony, as she had invited over 60 family members, friends and former legislative colleagues to witness her swearing in.

Governor Paul LePage administers the Oath of Office to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap privately in the governor’s Cabinet Room.

Governor Paul LePage administers the Oath of Office to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap privately in the governor’s Cabinet Room.


On Thursday afternoon, Dunlap and Mills were escorted separately into the governor’s Cabinet Room along with members of their staff, family and a handful of state senators to witness the quick ceremonies behind closed doors. Neither the public nor the press were allowed to witness, although this reporter did manage to obtain a photo of Secretary of State Dunlap’s swearing in by quickly passing a camera to a willing party as they went through the door.

Once both were sworn in, Governor LePage met with Hayes and her husband Stephen in the Hall of Flags and spoke for a few moments privately. Before a large crowd of invited guests including former legislators of all political stripes, he administered the oath of office publicly, congratulated her, waved to the crowd of witnesses and returned to his office.

It would be easy to chalk all of this up as yet another example of “Paul LePage being Paul LePage”, except this feels like the beginning of a concerning tonal trend. Earlier in the week and with much fanfare, the governor unveiled a new facility in South Portland that consolidates the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Labor (DOL) offices. The administration claimed that the new facility will save taxpayers more than $23 million. But when asked by the press about the difficulties the new location creates for those having to take a 40 minute bus ride to get to it, the governor quipped:

    “Get over it.”

Also this week, DHHS head Mary Mayhew stated that the federal government’s battle with the LePage administration over photos on EBT cards could lead to her department’s “questioning their ability to administrate the SNAP program”.

Let that sink in: Mayhew, considered to be mulling a future Blaine House run herself, is willing to deny 249,000 Maine families their federally allowed food assistance.

    “Get over it.”

But back to the private/ public oath of office brouhaha. The governor and his office have refused to comment on the matter at all.

    “Get over it.”

One anticipates this phrase will be repeated many times over the next four years.

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(UPDATED) Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Despite Opposition, Maine is Putting Photos on All EBT Cards

Posted on November 21, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Updated post from July to reflect the following letter from the USDA to Maine DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew dated 11/20/14:

As the Portland Press Herald is reporting, Maine has 45 days to respond to the letter, else risk losing 50% of the funding that helps cover SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) administrative costs.

    “Since Maine has represented to (the USDA) that the state’s EBT photo program is optional, the state must affirmatively demonstrate that SNAP clients have a choice whether to have a photo on their EBT card and their choice does not adversely affect their SNAP eligibility,” Kurt Messner, administrator for the USDA’s Northeast Region, wrote in the letter dated Thursday.

    Messner went on to say that “there are significant civil rights concerns about the state’s practice of taking photos of all non-applicant household members.” The practice, according to Messner, may represent a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    “Any individual who applies for SNAP on behalf of eligible household members must be able to access the program without fear,” Messner wrote.

Newly minted DHHS spokesman David Sorensen responded that “that the photo ID measure is a policy, not a rule or law” and that Commissioner Mayhew “plans to review some of the USDA allegations, including the claim that recipients are given the impression that a photo is mandatory.”

Mayhew is quoted:

    “We remain 100 percent committed to placing photos on EBT cards. While we are still reviewing the letter, it is imperative that Maine is able to implement common-sense reforms to ensure the integrity of our welfare system, preserving resources for the truly needy while protecting taxpayers.”

ACLU of Maine and Maine Equal Justice Partners have also weighed in:

    “Maine has a real hunger problem and it’s very serious,” said Chris Hastedt, public policy director for Maine Equal Justice Partners. “(SNAP) is being administered in a way that the state is creating more hunger problems and greater barriers for those who are hungry. The state has to tell people upfront that they have a choice about the photo ID.”

    “Requiring photo ID on EBT cards is incredibly costly, it’s ineffective and the Department of Agriculture has said it’s illegal,” Zachary Heiden, the ACLU of Maine’s legal director, said in a written statement. “If the administration wants to do what’s best for the state, it will stop punishing people who are struggling in this tough economy.”

====================================

Originally posted July 9.

A few weeks ago, DHHS officials provided case workers the following instructions regarding the photo ID EBT card changes the LePage administration was making.

DHHS also provided those same case workers a script of prepared answers to use when the inevitable questions would arise:

————————–

AUDIO LINK HERE

Two men from South Thomaston were arrested last week for trafficking bath salts. Drug enforcement agents seized three handguns, $25,000 in cash and—yes, you guessed it—seven EBT cards.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Gov. Paul LePage discusses his EBT/ TANF reform bills LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842 at a press conference.

Gov. Paul LePage discusses his EBT/ TANF reform bills LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842 at a press conference.

The drug dealer admitted that the seven EBT cards were given to him as payment for the drugs. Bath salts contain very dangerous synthetic stimulants. They result in overdoses, hallucinations and even death. It’s bad enough that some people will pay for these drugs, but it is even worse when taxpayer dollars are used to pay for them.

This drug bust, along with several others, shows EBT cards are being used to support criminal behavior invading our state.

I had a plan that added 14 agents to fight drug crime, but liberal politicians rejected it. Democrats couldn’t even say yes, when I found the money for a compromise package with fewer drug agents, judges, prosecutors and supported an additional $750,000 for substance abuse treatment. Instead, liberal politicians swept the bill under the rug killing the compromise in the middle of the night.

Despite all evidence, including major drug busts day after day, Democrats refuse to address drug crime in our State.

These same liberal politicians also believe that a certain level of EBT fraud is acceptable. I don’t think any level of EBT fraud is acceptable, and I know you don’t either. Using an EBT card to buy drugs means a needy child, elderly or disabled person is not getting their benefits.

That’s why we are moving ahead with our plan to put photos on all EBT cards. It will not stop all EBT fraud, but it will make it easier to identify who is abusing these cards. It puts those who would abuse EBT cards on notice that the state is holding them accountable.

To test the plan to put photos on EBT cards, the Department of Health and Human Services ran a pilot project in its Bangor office. DHHS studied the mistakes other states made to ensure they did it right. The pilot program ran for two months and was very successful.

We are now implementing the program statewide. The new card not only features a photo, but it also clearly states that misuse of the EBT card is considered a crime. Photos on the new EBT cards will help DHHS verify the identity of the card holder. The photos will be helpful in cases where EBT cards are sold for cash or drugs.

They will also help determine who is the rightful owner of a card when multiple EBT cards are found on an individual.

There are about 223,000 EBT cards in Maine. These cards are loaded with benefits such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other welfare benefits. Over the last 12 months, more than $383 million in benefits have been put on Maine EBT cards.

Even if just one percent is wasted or abused, that’s almost 4 million dollars. Wasting 4 million dollars of taxpayer money may be okay to liberals in Maine and Washington, D.C., but it’s not okay with me.

While I am your Governor, I won’t tolerate one dollar of waste, fraud or abuse. I believe it’s government’s responsibility to ensure your taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. That’s why my administration will keep moving forward to protect taxpayer dollars and the benefits that are truly needed by our most vulnerable citizens.

Thank you for listening.

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(ICYMI) LePage: Social Security, Medicare “Welfare, Pure And Simple”- “Oh Hey Wait, I didn’t say THAT!”

Posted on October 22, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

(Originally posted 6/26/14.)

UPDATE: Seems others also thought LePage’s approach to the mess of his own making rather odd (PPH’s Bill Nemitz: “LePage blames messenger for his own message on Social Security”). And rather inevitably, the governor’s gaffe went national (Salon: Gov. Paul LePage on Social Security: “It is welfare, pure and simple”).

Wearing a nice suit in a potato field apparently makes sense to Rep. Alex Willette, even if there is not a single potato farmer in Maine who would ever do this.

Wearing a nice suit in a potato field apparently makes sense to Rep. Alex Willette, even if there is not a single potato farmer in Maine who would ever do this.

So much for the Governor’s newly announced campaign staff additions, including spokesman/ former House Minority Whip Rep. Alex Willette, coming out of the blocks and hitting the ground running- Days 1 and 2 appear to be P.R. fiascos!

An interesting past few days with much back and forth discussion between Maine Governor Paul LePage, Democratic gubernatorial rival Rep. Mike Michaud and now Portland Press Herald- let’s review the “who said what and when”.

First, Paul LePage’s office sent out a press release early yesterday morning, designed to discuss the latest BEA reports of Maine’s personal income growth as dead last when compared to the rest of the New England states and 39th when stacked against those of the entire country, which in part read:

    The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) claims the other five New England states saw higher personal income growth than Maine, but that growth was driven by an increase in welfare benefits, especially in the form of Medicaid expansion. The BEA conceals welfare benefits by calling them “Personal Current Transfer Receipts.”

    These “Transfer Receipts” include: Social Security benefits; Medicare payments; Medicaid; and state unemployment insurance benefits.

    In addition to counting welfare benefits as personal income, the BEA includes another category called “all other personal current transfer receipts.” These are the health insurance premium subsidies paid as tax credits to enrollees of the Obamacare exchanges.

    Paul LePage

      “It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” said Governor LePage.

      “Liberals from the White House all the way down to Democratic leadership in Augusta believe that redistribution of wealth—taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to a growing number of welfare recipients—is personal income. It’s not. It’s just more welfare expansion. Democrats can obfuscate the numbers any way they want. The fact is that we have created thousands of jobs, more Mainers are working, and their income is going up.”

Democratic rival Mike Michaud quickly responded:

    “LePage’s comments are an insult to Maine seniors who have worked long and hard to earn their Social Security and Medicare benefits,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic nominee for governor. “These two programs have helped to provide a secure retirement to thousands upon thousands of hardworking men and women who have earned them one paycheck at a time. They deserve much better than to have their monthly Social Security checks called ‘welfare handouts.’ The governor should be embarrassed that he ever suggested such a thing.”

The campaign started an online petition (Tell LePage: Social Security & Medicare are NOT welfare handouts!) where thousands signed up in less than 24 hours.

Then the Portland Press Herald had the audacity to report what the governor said– verbatum:

    Gov. Paul LePage has long cast a wide net for programs that he says fit the definition of welfare. On Wednesday, in a media release written as an alternative take on new personal-income data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, he lumped Social Security and Medicare into that definition.

    The federal data released Tuesday put Maine’s personal-income growth at 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2014, which ranked 39th nationally, last in New England and well below the national rate of 0.8 percent.

    LePage, however, said in the media release that Maine’s net personal earnings increased by 0.8 percent, in line with other New England states and slightly higher than the national rate of net personal earnings, 0.7 percent.

    The governor arrived at his number by excluding what the federal bureau calls “personal current transfer receipts” and dividends, interest and rental income.

In other words, LePage changed the rules- his team inexplicably fudged the numbers to reflect a conclusion that falsely makes the administration look better than reality. What his office with their pretzel mathematics failed to do was crunch the other 49 states’ numbers similarly for a more standardized, accurate comparison with the national figures and conclusions. And the reason they can NOT do that is quite simple.

The other New England states have expanded Medicaid, seen much better economic growth than Maine- the sole holdout in New England- and because of his own refusal to allow for coverage of 70,000 additional Mainers and creation of tens of thousands of jobs across the state, Paul LePage thinks that the numbers as provided by BEA are unfair.

It would be as if 50 horses were lined up at Scarborough Downs, but one arbitrarily was given a 30 second head start rest of the field. That’s what LePage’s “new math” accomplished- and he very rightfully got called out for it by Michaud.

But back to Portland Press Herald’s involvement, with a reminder that just last year the governor in a fighter jet simulator photo op in Berwick “joked” about wanting to blow up the PPH and BDN buildings. This morning, LePage issued another press release, taking PPH to task… for reporting exactly what the governor said in his earlier release:

DSC_0032

    Governor Paul R. LePage issued the following statement today with regard to erroneous interpretations from the Portland Press Herald of his Medicaid expansion-related comments:

    “I don’t think Social Security or Medicare is welfare. Only the most liberal interpretation of my statements about Medicaid expansion would twist my words to include Social Security and Medicare. Welfare expansion is not a reliable, nor is it a sustainable income source for personal growth income earnings.

    While my opponents are fighting for welfare expansion, my Administration is committed to preserve funding and resources for Maine’s elderly. Some seniors may be forced out of their homes because of financial troubles within Maine’s nursing homes and it is why I have pushed so hard to adequately fund those facilities.”

Side note: The administration may claim to have been trying to help those elderly Mainers in struggling nursing homes, but the reality is a far different matter.

Michaud and his staff once again responded:

    Gov. Paul LePage earned the ire of seniors and the people who support them this week when he inappropriately referred to Social Security and Medicare as “welfare” in a press release intended to obscure his poor performance in improving Maine’s economy.

    In just 24 hours, thousands of people have signed an online petition telling LePage that Social Security and Medicare are earned, one paycheck at a time through a lifetime of work.

    But now, as the governor tries to back away from his latest embarrassment, questions remain about exactly what LePage thinks “welfare” is.

    In the past he has called municipal revenue sharing welfare. In addition, in his press release he referred to all “Personal Current Transfer Receipts” as welfare, which would include — in addition to Social Security and Medicare – many other programs, such as:

    Mike Michaud at June 2014 press conference discusses plans as governor to create inspector general office, charged with investigating DHHS issues. Also pictured: State Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec)

    Mike Michaud at June 2014 press conference discusses plans as governor to create inspector general office, charged with investigating DHHS issues. Also pictured: State Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec)

  • Veterans benefits (including pensions and life insurance)
  • Compensation for victims of September 11
  • Compensation for survivors of public safety officers
  • Compensation for victims of crime
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Railroad retirements
  • Black lung benefits
  • Military insurance benefits
  • Fellowships for outstanding science students
  • Assistance to cadets a maritime academies
  • Pell Grants
  • Job Corps
  • Payment of anti-terrorism judgments
  • LePage, in his own words: “It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple.”

    “The governor’s disdain for Maine families is clear in his attitudes, in his policies and in his words. According to his press release, not only are Social Security and Medicare now welfare but veterans’ benefits and compensation for 9/11 victims are too. Where does he draw the line?” said Lizzy Reinholt, a spokesperson for U.S. Congressman Mike Michaud’s gubernatorial campaign. “The governor would like to hide his own dismal performance by pointing his finger at other people, blaming them for Maine’s sluggish economy. His actions and his words are holding Maine back.”

    “Social Security is not welfare. Medicare is not welfare. Veterans benefits are not welfare,” Reinholt said. “Like many of the programs that the governor holds in disdain, they are part of the fabric that helps to hold our communities together.”

Governor Paul LePage flies an F-35 Lightning II simulator at a Pratt & Whitney employee appreciation event in North Berwick. (image via BDN)

Governor Paul LePage flies an F-35 Lightning II simulator at a Pratt & Whitney employee appreciation event in North Berwick. (image via BDN)

And most recently, the Portland Press Herald has once again reported the exact words of the Governor.

    Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement Thursday that he doesn’t think Social Security or Medicare are welfare and he criticized the Portland Press Herald for making an “erroneous interpretation” of a prior press release from his office.

    “Only the most liberal interpretation of my statements about Medicaid expansion would twist my words to include Social Security and Medicare,” he said in Thursday’s statement. “Welfare expansion is not a reliable, nor is it a sustainable income source for personal growth income earnings.”

    The statement differs significantly from a press release LePage’s office issued Wednesday in response to a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report that found Maine’s personal income growth was below the national average and last in New England.

To be updated as needed…

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AFA, HHS Joint Committee Meet w/ DHHS Officials to Discuss CTS, Riverview Psychiatric Center Woes

Posted on August 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

HHS Committee member Rep. Henry Bear (Maliseet) speaks with HHS Senate Chair and new AFA committee member Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) before meeting begins. Also pictured is AFA Senate Chair Dawn Hill (D-York)

HHS Committee member Rep. Henry Bear (Maliseet) speaks with HHS Senate Chair and new AFA committee member Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) before meeting begins. Also pictured is AFA Senate Chair Dawn Hill (D-York)

Joint meeting by the Appropriations & Financial Affairs, Health & Human Services standing legislative committees held to discuss a number of topics with officials from DHHS and Riverview Psychiatric Center including CTS (transportation), safety concerns, training issues, re-certification efforts and more.

The committees submitted two pages of detailed questions to Commissioner Mayhew, who responded with a 27 page document and sent Stephanie Nadeau, Ricker Hamilton and Riverview superintendent Jay Harper in her stead.

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 1)
http://youtu.be/EJLhEDmND0M

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 2)
http://youtu.be/jLbETF0ueVg

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 3)
http://youtu.be/EZr0wWC6Xko

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 4)
http://youtu.be/uvSq6_H08UU

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 5)
http://youtu.be/VKeiXLa_R1k

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 6)
http://youtu.be/AOP8eDHN09I

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: The NFL has an Opportunity to Push Back Against Domestic Violence

Posted on August 13, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

5pm UPDATE: Here is the letter.

nfl boycottNOTE: Last week, Governor Paul LePage went onto WVOM’s George Hale and Ric Tyler Show and during his interview, said that he was “boycotting the NFL”. He also referred himself in the third person when discussing his chances for re-election:

    “The governor does not agree [that it’s a tight race]. … The governor says that he’s either going to be blown out by a landslide or he’s going to win by a landslide. … The Maine people are either going to throw me out or take me in wholeheartedly, but I don’t think this is going to be close.”

He has still not spoken publicly about his meeting with Democratic leadership, despite new reports that the situation with Augusta’s Riverview Psychiatric Center is more dire and will be even more expensive than thought even last week.

This week, he chose to use his weekly address to double down on his condemnation of the NFL. A reminder: The only professional football team in all of New England is still located in Massachusetts, not Maine.

No word from RGA Chair Chris Christie (the New Jersey governor who favors the Dallas Cowboys over his own local teams) who was in Maine supporting LePage on Tuesday, on his views of the LePage “NFL boycott”.

———

Audio link here.

The NFL has an Opportunity to Push Back Against Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence does not discriminate. This crime affects thousands of people, no matter their age, race or economic background.

DSC_0112Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Most domestic violence victims are women, but this is not just a women’s issue. Men must be part of the solution to end the pattern of abuse.

Recently, the National Football League has taken heat for how it sanctions players who commit a domestic violence crime.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a mere two-week suspension to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. This man knocked his fiancée unconscious, then dragged her out of an elevator. Rice pled not guilty, but the video doesn’t lie. Sadly, his fiancée is now his wife.

If a two-week suspension is the “punishment” for knocking a woman unconscious, then there is something very wrong with the NFL culture.

This week in a letter to Goodell, I told him I’m appalled that he promotes permissive disciplinary procedures that could ultimately result in the death of innocent people.

NFL quarterback Michael Vick served 2 years in prison for running a dog-fighting ring, but an NFL player who commits a violent crime against a woman gets a two-week suspension. The NFL mandates harsher penalties for players who violate the league’s personal-conduct policy or abuse drugs than those who commit domestic violence. This defies common sense.

Taking thugs and wife beaters off the field may be bad for business, but the NFL is playing games with people’s lives.

I don’t know if Commissioner Goodell is familiar with domestic violence or if it has affected his family personally. However, I can tell you firsthand that domestic violence is about a perpetrator having power and control over another individual. Too many times, it leads to murder.

I have a zero-tolerance position on domestic violence. There is no excuse for this type of behavior in our society. Until all of us make an effort to end this abuse, the cycle will continue.

NFL players are role models for young men, and many of them excel at that. But if some players are allowed to act violently toward women, then young men will think that behavior is acceptable. It tarnishes all players and gives the NFL a bad name.

This is not about winning or losing. This is about life or death. The NFL has an opportunity to change the rules. We urge Goodell to do the right thing.

Thank you for listening.

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