LePage: State will run out of money for DHHS bills June 10

AUGUSTA — Maine’s health and human services commissioner said Friday her department only has enough money to pay its bills through June 10. That’s 20 days before her department’s accounts would be replenished by a new state budget.

Commissioner Mary Mayhew included the news in a letter sent Friday to Gov. Paul LePage, in which she said lawmakers need to pass a budget by May 28 so her department can make its payments.

“Without a new budget to address the immediate need for funding through the remainder of this fiscal year, we will not have enough money to pay all of our providers,” Mayhew wrote in the letter.

Mayhew’s letter prompted a more terse letter from Gov. Paul LePage to legislative leaders, in which he called on Democrats to propose an alternative to his unpopular budget proposal.

“If a budget is not approved, the Department of Health and Human Services will run out of money in three weeks,” LePage wrote. “Starting the week of June 10, DHHS will not be able to pay for services for our most vulnerable Mainers. Democratic leaders are so focused on expanding welfare to cover able-bodied people, they have forgotten about the Mainers who are already on Medicaid.”

In committee, Democrats have voted to tie repaying the state’s $484 million debt to its hospitals to an expansion of Medicaid, something LePage and many other Republicans oppose.

“While Democratic leadership is engaging in Washington-style politics and strong arming members of its caucus to vote against the wishes of the Maine people, a crisis is looming that will affect our most needy citizens,” LePage wrote.

Democratic leaders questioned why LePage sent a letter to them on a Friday evening rather than request a meeting to discuss the urgent news. Alfond and Eves also requested Mayhew appear before the Legislature’s budget-writing Appropriations Committee on Sunday to answer questions. The committee is holding weekend sessions as the Legislature’s June 19 adjournment date approaches.

“The timing and intent of this letter is questionable,” Eves said in a prepared response. “It seems more geared toward fear mongering than problem solving. We have been pleased with the bipartisan work of the Appropriations Committee for the last five months. In order for their work to continue, we must get answers.”

Alfond said Mayhew needs to “address the administration’s potential mismanagement of this situation.”

Members of the Appropriations Committee are at work crafting a budget compromise based on LePage’s original proposal, though they haven’t reached a final accord. They have yet to address recommendations from other legislative committees that oppose a number of LePage’s proposed cuts and propose $30 million in additional school funding.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett called the letters from LePage and Mayhew “a friendly reminder of where we’re at and that action does need to be taken.”

The LePage administration last week rolled out a package of changes to the governor’s biennial budget proposal that includes $35 million so the state Department of Health and Human Services can meet its immediate needs.

Bennett said the LePage administration is holding out hope that lawmakers will pass the $35 million budget addition as part of LePage’s full two-year budget proposal. If that proves impossible, the administration could propose an emergency budget package.

“We do have means to address this issue if need be,” Bennett said, “and the governor, of course, will see that the state of Maine pays its bills.”

LePage, in his letter, repeated his accusations that Democrats have been stoking fears of a government shutdown, which would occur if a budget is not passed by July 1.

“A shutdown is determined by law, not by a governor,” he wrote. “If the Legislature fails to pass a budget, I have no authority to spend money. With no money, government shuts down. But I am not planning for a shutdown. I submitted my plan five months ago. What is your plan? Mainers deserve to know.”

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

State will run out of money for DHHS bills June 10

Mainers , Sunday 14:00 hst ?
. . ....and what do you plan to do Hon Gov ?
Wooden nickels and bad excuses do not work n e more ( if they ever did )
Q: Secede from the union ?
Q: Join the Republic of TX ?
A: _________________________________?
Enquiring minds wanna' know
suggestion ; Why don't you impose a tax on concealed weapons , rob the casino , invest in scratch offs , or , alternatively , drop your own health plan ?
It's simply a rhetorical question
/s , Steve
btw - He's - y o u r - Republican tea party Governor , not our's . Tread on me . Go ahead . Make my day •

Melissa  Dunn's picture

We need a FairShare Economy.

We need a FairShare Economy. No more tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations like Walmart. Middle Income earners, low-income earners, and small business pay their share.

We need to stop cutting vital resources for those most vulnerable in Maine. It is not fair and not right that the Governor and Republicans are attacking those in need of services-disabled and the elderly... those who are unable to work. It needs to stop being used as an excuse. We have systems in place to help those in need-leave them alone!

Governor LeRage said that he was going to go for people who use vital resources and started using the term 'welfare' as a fear tactic among others. If he went into and said "hey, i'm going to take diabetes medication and testing strips away from you-the very resources you need to survive, not loose your sight, or a limb" how many people would have voted for him? The elderly are already suffering-choosing meds over food or rent then they are told that they won't be able to get the surgery they need to help them walk! That ain't right!

The state has money. Another misconception... another lie... its easier to blame people that others don't or can't see... the vulnerable... He is just a straight up bully with hard feelings about a past he can't come to terms with or something.

He is wrong for our people and wrong for our state.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Toughest job in Augusta

Adrienne Bennett, "a FRIENDLY reminder of where we're at and that action does need to be taken". Interesting spin to an ass chewing, a threat and a show of total disdain.
I hope the Govs. paying you well, kid, you deserve it.

Hospital repayment+Medicaid.”

A reasonable governor would see that he Democratic sponsored compromise is the best of both worlds, as todays editorial states, however we will have to wait until 2014 before a reasonable governor occupies the Blaine house!

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

Interesting

It's okay for LePage to play hardball by threatening to veto everything unless he gets his own way (most people call that a tantrum, but our guvernator says that offends him), but it's not okay for the Democratic majorities in the legislature to link something they want (which is 100% funded for 3 years and then greater than 90% for 7 more by the feds) to the governor's request.

Governor LePage is a case study why businessmen make really bad politicians. Most businessmen are used to firing people who don't bow and kiss their boots whereas politics is the art of compromise to work for the common good.

Jim Cyr's picture

Interesting there Mr. Nazar,

Just where do you think the money will come from after the 3 years is up ? 100 % funded by who ? The Fed is already BROKE !

Bob Wright's picture

Please, do not coming looking

Please, do not coming looking to me for more money. I am a working man, I am broke.

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