Maine budget committee members voice frustration over snub by LePage agency heads

AUGUSTA — Lawmakers on the state's powerful budget-writing committee Tuesday repeatedly voiced disappointment and frustration that representatives of Republican Gov. Paul LePage's administration would not answer their questions in person.

Four departments, including the state's largest agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, had business before the Legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee but did not send a representative to meet with the committee Tuesday.

"For an organization with about 3,000 employees, that no one is here today, I think it is shameful," Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, the committee's Senate chair, said. "It indicates to me there's hardly any willingness to work for the people of the state of Maine."

The committee was reduced to drafting a letter via their clerk to various department heads. Several questions they wanted answers to involved a breakdown in the system that provides rides to MaineCare clients.

The committee also had questions for the Department of Transportation regarding how much borrowing the state needed to do for projects on the department's work list. DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt did send a letter to the committee Tuesday morning with some of those details.

The committee also was hoping to hear from a representative from the Department of Administration and Financial Affairs regarding state debt and interest rates.

The committee also wanted an update from Maine Revenue Services on a closure of its offices in Houlton.

None of the agencies provided on-mic testimony, although Finance Commissioner H. Sawin Millett did meet informally with lawmakers.

Earlier in the year, LePage said he was not going to allow any of his commissioners to testify before the committee after Hill refused to let the governor address the committee during its deliberations on the state's budget.

Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for LePage, said the committee either had answers to its questions already or would have answers provided to them.

Bennett said DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew was responsible for the largest department in the state and didn't have time to be at the meeting. She also said the governor's deputy chief of staff was present for most of the meeting Tuesday.

"They can be assured that they will be receiving answers to their questions," Bennett said. "But our commissioners do have departments to run."

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, and Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, also sent a letter to LePage on Tuesday complaining about the snub and detailing their concerns. 

"At each step along the way the Legislature has been forced to act in isolation, without cooperation from your administration," Eves and Alfond wrote. "Today's AFA meeting was perhaps the starkest example."
 
In an email message late Tuesday Bennett said LePage would be meeting with Eves and Alfond early Wednesday morning to discuss the situation.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Too busy??

Ms. Maheu is too busy to testify? Busy doing what ? Bulldozing ? Not listening to complaints? Not communicating with the Feds? Not getting working computers? Not figuring out her budget? Not serving her clients? Oh I know ! She is busy notifying people about the services they will no longer be getting.

 's picture

I think its sad that LePage

I think its sad that LePage is acting like a spoiled brat,I didn't get to speak in front of the committee,he wont let anyone speak now.It is sickening that the people of Maine are held hostage by this bully.LePage once again shows his lack of professional skills.

Bob White's picture

I forgot some of those

I forgot some of those Democrats kids play in this sand box as well. Now run home and tell your mother that other people have ideas that aren't like yours.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Hey Bob, two things..........

One, If your referring to our local government here in Maine, you have to be suffering a severe case of selective vision. If you can't see the Governors actions and performance as anything but "EMBARRASSING", I question what exactly you are basing your comments on. He is not a very functional person. He likes to shoot from the hip. What he doesn't like to do is contemplate the results of his actions. He throws temper tantrums, in which he makes statements and decisions in haste, resulting in extremely negative results for the State. Another special ability of our Governor is his ability to, forget and move on. I actually heard him say on the news this week, these words, "The Democrats have to stop stalling". Now if anyone else, but the biggest chock block in the wheels of Democracy, said that, I would let it slide. Not with LePage. He needs to be reminded of the damage he has done to this state. He obviously doesn't see it himself.
Two,If your referring to the Republican Party as a whole, I'm lost, I don't even know where to start. I would be willing to bet, 2013, will go down in the books as the most dysfunctional Congress in history. The Republican Party, DBA, the Tea Party has destroyed the process put in place to run this country. In their overzealous attempt to protect the 1%, they have fragmented and stalled almost every attempt at legislation to come out of Washington. There is even a mini civil war brewing within their own chambers.
The one thing that totally amazes me, is that these fools are going on TV, and coming out with some of the dumbest explanations. They themselves are speechless. Some thing I thought was impossible, FOX News has dummied themselves down to the intellectual level of the Tea Party. That my friends is getting down there.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, no one has the right to use politics in a way that intentionally hurts people. It's a slap in the face to the people who put them in office. Speaking as a citizen of this Country, not a democrat, Liberal of whatever other name they have for it. The Republican Party, local as well as National, is the largest threat this country faces at this time. This, I'm afraid, is an internal threat for which there is no defense. At least until 2016................

Bob White's picture

Your points would be OK if

Your points would be OK if you believed everything on the News but you need to be a bit more forward thinking then that. You kind of sound a bit like my nieve nephew. Believing everything thing you read. One thing all that refried stuff you and your people like to spread over and over again like it might be true if you keep repeating it you didn't comment on the surplus. Well that's about right for your kind

FRANK EARLEY's picture

My moneys on the nieve nephew.......

Given the logic of your post's, believe me, I don't believe everything I read...........

Bob White's picture

Grow up

Will these guys ever stop crying? There like 2 year olds running to there mommies. Maybe if they would act like adults maybe they could get something done and not worry about trying to make the Republicans look bad. Sure is getting sickening.

Bob White, your memory is short and selective

Bob, you have a bad memory. The Democrats (and Republican partners) in the legislature have gotten some things done, such as passing a budget, and doing so in spite of our spiteful governor. Exhibit A: http://www.sunjournal.com/news/maine/2013/06/26/lepage-says-legislatures... And in light of the photo of Gov. LePage in that article to which I just linked, your attempt to suggest that it is the Democrats who are crying and failing to act like adults is laughable. Better luck next time.

The money shot

Bob White's picture

Big surprise you can find

Big surprise you can find pictures that aren't very flattering when the main stream press is doing everything thing in there power to discredit his work. His accomplishments speak louder then words or pictures and when I say accomplishments I mean a SURPLUS yes people that is a very good thing.

Jason Theriault's picture

Just wrong

That surplus is because the tax changes on the federal level has prompted some Mainers to claims as much income in the previous year as possible. Next year, there will be a lot less because of this frontloading and the LePage tax cuts.

Bob White's picture

Sure keep wishing for that.

Sure keep wishing for that.

Seriously?

What accomplishments?

Bob White's picture

Apparently reading isn't your

Apparently reading isn't your strong suit I'm sorry I don't have a cool picture for you to look at. Have someone read this to you we had a budget surplus how do you think that happened? I will give you a hint someone was pushing hard for things and can you guess who

Funny

Apparently I'm reading more than you, because the surplus was said to be a result of "unexpected tax revenues." How, exactly, does that fit in the "accomplishment" column.

Bob White's picture

Go ask an adult how that

Go ask an adult how that works they should be able to help you with that.

Jason Theriault's picture

LOLOLOL

Yes, when they try and make the commissioners do their job, it makes the republican's look bad.

COULDN'T.AGREE.MORE

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I think Bennet's running out of wind...........

Her excuses are starting to get pretty lame. To busy running their departments, I could by that if at least one of them was running properly. What Bennet/// I mean LePage doesn't seem to realize is that questions need to be answered now, by not taking the time to do their jobs, they may be delaying other projects or departments.
I just can't wait until we have some sort of functional government in Augusta. Hell I can't even get my address changed on my drivers license. I went to the Motor Vehicle Dept. and took my ticket, #110, I was sitting next to a skeleton with the number 75, just another example of the smooth operation under LePage.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Augusta

Another word for "dysfunctional".

Steve  Dosh's picture

. .Committee members voice frustration over snub by LePage agenc

Mainers, 11:15 hst am ? Tuesday •
. ... When does this guy's term come due and who is running next go around ?
Rhetorical questions , all • 
/s Steve ;)

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