H. Brooks: Mistake was hidden

Gov. Paul LePage’s top administration at the Department of Health and Human Services chose to hide a critical mistake within the DHHS budget. The mistake involved 19,000 Mainers. They chose to withhold this information while the governor proposed massive cuts to Mainers receiving MaineCare.

Fortunately, the Democratic state representative on the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Peggy Rotundo, and the Democratic state senator on the Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Margart Craven, worked hard to mitigate these cuts.

Gov. LePage’s appointed DHHS Commissioner, Mary Mayhew, knew about the mistake in January. How could she not inform the governor and other legislators of that?

I hope that further cuts are held up until the full scope of the problem is uncovered.

When the governor threatened to close schools if his supplemental budget was not passed in time, he was right here in Lewiston. Unfortunately, I think that just earned a failing grade in accountability and transparency.

Rep. Rotundo and Sen. Craven questioned the numbers from the DHHS. They are demanding honesty and transparency. I am very grateful to have their representation in Augusta. I trust Rotundo and Craven to fight for us.

I would like to see more representatives such as Rotundo and Craven. Voters need to restore a Democratic majority in the State House and Senate.

Essential services should not be cut while the facts are being hidden by Gov. LePage’s top administration, and not while he proudly gives tax breaks disproportionately benefiting the wealthy.

Heidi Brooks, Lewiston

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The common folk

The common folk in this country need to learn to see a scam when those folks who consider themselves to be more worthy of the good life hurl it at them. They promise to stop abortions but give us a lot of moralistic meddling and eliminate all the things that keep the abortion rates low like available birth control and pre-natal care, and support for the disabled. They promise to cut taxes and get the government off our backs and we get pennies in cuts, massive service cuts while the multi-national corporations, banks;, insurance and energy companies get huge subsidies, free access to public lands and the unfettered right to gouge citizens and workers alike by forming monopolies and conglomerations. In the end we get more and more wars, higher deficits, financial bubbles, fewer and fewer services and deplorable working conditions or unemployment. Having been fooled by these guys many times already I hope the common folk are ready to read the writing on the wall.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Everything you say is true.

Everything you say is true. It's been going on for the last 4 years (oBAMa) and the previous 8 years (Bush) before that. The dems are telling the same lies the republicans are.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Paul, You are correct. Funny

You are
correct. Funny how some people can’t see that is the case. They keep thinking their guy is different. Perhaps they are okay with it when they are on the receiving end, and not okay when they are not on the receiving end.

Until more people see the truth, nothing will change.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

If the 'common folks' would

If the 'common folks' would learn to keep their noses out of other peoples' wallets, they might be able to see what's really going on around them.

 's picture

Pirate, I couldn't agree more.

The "common folk", at least the ones who seem to have nothing else to do but hang around here, spend so much time searching out, and envying, the wallets of others, they have no time left to consider their own and make appropriate decisions and efforts.

The wealthy didn't put you in your current situation, Claire. You did.



Nobody likes to pay taxes and the subject is especially noxious this time of the year. However, if people want a decent standard of living they have to invest in their community. To expect poor people to invest a greater percentage of their resources than rich people is ridiculous. The rich got rich as a result of community investments to begin with. It's only fair that they should invest more in education and infrastructure to guarantee future prosperity. Those folks who want no taxes ever are looking to turn the country into a hillbilly heaven where only a few people prosper while the rest suffer in ignorance and squallor. A few more years of them and we will be looking to Mississipi as "the way life should be". And as for the people who get money back it is usually because they paid too much in to begin with. There is no excuse for companies making huge profits to pay nada or even worse to pay nada and get subsidies besides thanks to loopholes. What they don't pay for you and I have to make up for while they lobby for government contracts and special exemptions.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I wish I had $500,000 to give

I wish I had $500,000 to give you. I'd be interested in seeing how you change your tune about the rich.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ten bucks says see would be

Ten bucks says see would be back in the same situation as she is now since she has failed to learn how to make money work in her self interest. She would be singing different tune if she know how to create wealth.


Too bad all you guys seem to

Too bad all you guys seem to be able to do is make ASSumptions about other people and their situations. It is people who think they are the only ones entitled to an opinion that make this whole thing a nightmare because they are not willing to OPEN THEIR MINDS and actually HEAR what others are saying.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Claire, At the end of the

At the end of the day, the only thing we all have here are opinions. I actually do hear what other people are saying; most of it is excuses why they cannot do something.

For example, if you could have saved about $250.00 a month for the better part of your adult life and invested that in an IRA, you probably would have close to $500,000.000 when you entered retirement.

That is only $62.50 per week.

Now let’s hear the excuses why you could not do that.

The sad thing about it is that people sacrificed and saved, get screwed in the end. How? The obsession with printing money devalues a whole life’s worth of savings.
Now where is the equality?


Wise decisions

Actually I did invest in my retirement. For 40 years I paid into a retirement system and it cost me a lot more than $62 a week because I believed in the promise that my fellow Mainers made to me that I would have a certain retirement in my old age as a member of the Maine State Retirement System. Unfortunately, the current representative does not believe in keeping promises. I have a lot of sympathy for the folks in Millinocket who were lied to by a politician who knows nothing about honor and integrity. Neither of us are responsible for the situation we find ourselves in. It was not our decisions but others' thievery that left us where we are. As for your faithful devotion to putting aside money, well the financial debacle of 2008 in which $73 trillion of those retirement funds were stolen through the sale of bogus securities should make even you see that it is not always your personal decisions that determine where you end up. It isn't a safety net if it isn't safe.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Claire, Let me respond in


Let me respond in reverse order. Nothing in live is guaranteed that is why one must diversify as much as possible. For example, an old employer of mine had a pension plan. Knowing that nothing in life is guaranteed, I made additional investments in a ROTH IRA. Guess what, my pension plan disappeared, but I still have my ROTH.

I remained in the market throughout 2008 and accelerated my investments in the down market. The market has sprung back and I’m all the better for it. Could I end up losing – yes, but I took some of those gains and again diversified - I financed two rental properties that generate passive income.

Life never stops taking punches, so never stop ducking. Now I agree with you that there are undesirable behaviors in the market, and in government for that fact, but I believe that I’m still ahead.

I view both Wall Street and my government as mobsters that I must pay off to get ahead ever so slightly. It is simply in my DNA to keep plugging ahead.


I'm on board with that

I wish you did too. I am ready for that particular experiment any time.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Your first call would be to

Your first call would be to the IRS to have them put you in that 'lower tax bracket' of the rich, right?


My first call??

It's hard to say exactly but I think my first call would probably to hire a maid, cook and house cleaner. Then I would definitely look for some of those loopholes that rich people enjoy. Unfortunatly I would not find them because they are reserved for folks who have friends in high places like large corporations or financial institutions or insurance conglomerates. They don't have to pay but you are right I would be paying through the nose as a private citizen. Maybe I could do like Romney and find an off-shore tax haven.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Oh, I failed to mention the

Oh, I failed to mention the other fundamental difference. Once you spent all your money, and I saved mine, you would look to me, call me greedy, and want my money. That pretty much sums it up.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Claire, You are not unlike

You are not unlike most people when it comes to money.

Just read your post. Your first thought turns to how you are going to spend your newly acquired wealth.

My first thought is how can I turn this into more money, like buy two rental properties and invest the remainder in Vanguard GNMA bond fund; note that $500,000.00 is not very much these days, especially when our health sours with age.

This is the fundamental difference in thinking that sets people apart when it comes to finances.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I think your biggest problem

I think your biggest problem would be that the feds would consider it as income just as they would if you had won a lottery. The end result being that by the time the feds and state got done with you, you'd be lucky to end up with $200 grand, which would put you in the same bracket as a successful working stiff who's doing well.

RONALD RIML's picture

Sorry, Pirate....

You're in the 'Bracket' BEFORE the Feds and State get done with you.

Have your accountant explain it to you.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Don't have one. I just write

Don't have one. I just write the checks at the end of the year, but have use of the money thoughout the year. It's an alternative to getting a refund which, of course, is merely getting one's own money back after having given the government interest free use of it for the whole year. My point? It's nice to have choices.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Just remember that the DHHS

Just remember that the DHHS problems largely trace back to a $25 million computer system put into operation when Baldacci was governor and rubber stamped by Rotundo and Craven. On another point, Lepage's tax breaks also go to some 70,000 Mainers that are far from "wealthy", not just those in the highest tax bracket, who by the way, still pay far more to the State in taxes as a group than anyone else.

 's picture

another myth. Does apply to Federal taxes

But when you look at state taxes all income groups pay the same percentage except the lowest which pays at twice the rate.That is before LePage started changing things.


It doesn't matter who it

It doesn't matter who it traces back to. What does matter is that there is an issue that needs to be fixed. That "ISSUE" was not brought to the attention of our legislature and they were asked to act without complete factual information. There is none of the "transparency" that this administration claims to be aiming for. There is also no final amount that this has cost the state or will cost when we have to repay the federal government. Until such time as there is complete information then ALL tax breaks should be suspended. We cannot cut revenues to the state while we have such a budget quandary. It is also about time this administration starts looking for other places to cut because there is no way in HELL that DHHS can foot the entire budget....maybe they should start with the warden service...multiple new vehicles in a time when we are in such dire straits....salaries to people who can't be up front with congress or the people of Maine for that matter....and maybe they ought to come clean about a lot more things that we will eventually hear about.

ERNEST LABBE's picture


You arn't supposed to remember who caused the problem, just who inherited it. I suppose the difference is that we are one the side of the funders not the receivers.

 's picture

breaks for the rich ploy

Yeah the whole "tax breaks for the wealthy" load always gets me. It seems that every middle and lower class person I know with so much as one kid, not only do not pay taxes at the end of the year but get back a load of money they never paid. Why doesn't someone cry foul on that waste of tax dollars?

RONALD RIML's picture

Then you know

Then you know a whole bunch of lower economic class "middle and lower class persons" there, Mac.

I've known some extremely high class 'lower economic class' folks in my life, and we've got a few really low class 'higher economic class' folks down here on the Peninsula.....

 's picture

First tax return when I had

First tax return when I had kids, I thought something was wrong and refused to turn it in. I think I had paid in all of about $500 in federal taxes and here, H&R Block was telling me I was due over 2K. I thought for sure I would get in trouble for taking $1,500 more than I put in. Want to end deficits? Bring in a flat tax that the poor and rich pay alike and stop giving people more than they put in.

As for class distinction, it was given only as an economic indicator. I did contract work in my younger days for assembly line workers who gladly gave me a check and offered me a beer. I also did work for doctors who would hem and haw and talk about anything but the bill when the job was done.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

..."and stop giving people

..."and stop giving people more than they put in"...
Now that's a lesson that could also be applied to Social Security. And how about those SSI 'disability' checks?

RONALD RIML's picture

Didn't ya know

Their 'Insurance' was supposed to pay you....

My Police Department used to 'bill' for 'Responses' to false alarms (burglar, etc) after several freebies per month. The ones who were the most difficult to collect from were the ones most able to pay - Doctors, Banks, etc.... Now 'Little Ol' Ladies would sweat it - but hell, I'd deep six their bills in a heart-beat.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ronald, That is not unusual


That is not unusual for they know the value of money and keeping it in their own pocket, nothing wrong with that behavior. A good lesson that I learned over time is that all prices are negotiable.

I even have a 50% success rate negotiating prices with Walmart. Consider a package of underwear that has been opened and taped up – who wants to pay full price when I can pick up a package that is pristine right next to it.

Find the manager and make an offer. This does not always work, but it keeps me in inexpensive underwear.

 's picture

Why do you care?

As one of the wealthy ones, you don't pay taxes

 's picture

I make more than $20k per year ...

... so that makes me "wealthy", according to the Maine Revenue Service, and that definition hasn't changed substantially for 15 years. Yes, I have lots of deductions, but the bottom line: I pay a boatload of ME income tax. And employer taxes (for the privilege of providing jobs to other Mainers), and property taxes, and federal income tax, including self-employment tax. Apparently a self-employed couple doesn't qualify as a "working family", because our SE tax rate wasn't reduced, although it's the same tax that supposedly pays for current Social Security benefits.

Bob, would you please put me in touch with some of your wealth friends who don't pay taxes? Evidently they know some accounting tricks that I have missed.

RONALD RIML's picture

Do you??

Do 'you' - or your 'business' - pay those taxes???

If you don't want to pay those icky 'Employer Taxes' - sell the business and go work for someone else.

 's picture

Being self-employed ...

... there is no difference between me and my business. Just as there's no difference between you and your old book business. Or do you conveniently forget to mention that stuff when you file your tax return? If you do forget, it wouldn't surprise me, since you're such a hypocrite. Those icky things only apply to other people, not card-carrying liberals.

RONALD RIML's picture

No difference between you and your business???

My books can't poison anyone as your tomatoes could......

RONALD RIML's picture

Didn't your accountant tell you????

Didn't your accountant tell you????

Your money works at a much lower tax rate than you work for. And it's not 'Self-employed'

 's picture

To quote Bob ...

What are you talking about?

RONALD RIML's picture

If you don't know

Then of course 'Grown-ups' shouldn't let you anywhere near taxes.... Other than to pay them.

 's picture

I would be happy...

...with 20K a year.

 's picture

You're retired, right?

Your profile suggests your are, as you voluntarily list your age as over 70. You also list several prior jobs in the private sector - good ones, too, for Maine. If you're not making $20k with private pensions plus Social Security, I urge you to go to the nearest mirror and look in it. There you will see the person 100% responsible for your current conditions.

 's picture

You have...

...no idea what you're talking about.

 's picture

I have SS...

...a pension and two IRA's, which, during the time I was working, was deemed to be sufficient. It wasn't. The recession wasn't part of the plan at the time. As my money manager, any more suggestions?

 's picture

You are your money manager.

Don't blame me because you messed up your retirement planning.

 's picture

We all know...

...you are here to show your superiority over other people - so allow me - I bow to your superior intellect. Had I only had your friendship 50 years ago, I would have been so much better off. You are, without doubt, the smartest individual in the state. I'm sorry I forced my ignorance on you. Please, please accept my humble apology. Thank you, so much. PS - You have no idea what you're talking about.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Who's living in the Blaine

Who's living in the Blaine House, Mrs. Robinson?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You said the governor no

You said the governor no longer has a residence in Maine. Does he not reside in the Blaine House?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Understood, but not sure

Understood, but not sure about the illegality of his not owning a residence in Maine, though. I don't doubt he's found a legal loophole, but if he was in violation of any laws the boo birds would be all over that like ticks on a mangy dog.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The only vices worse than

The only vices worse than greed are envy and jealousy.

RONALD RIML's picture

My wife says I've a special

My wife says I've a special affinity for sloth.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Well, you do got that hair

Well, you do got that hair thing going.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Indeed, but does it go well

Indeed, but does it go well with mushrooms and green peppers, and, can you grill it?

RONALD RIML's picture

Don't know

But the but the prime rib on the grill just went down damn gud...

(with fresh mushrooms and leeks)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

While some poor stiff is

While some poor stiff is working his/her tail off to pay taxes, Ronald eats prime rib at the taxpayer’s expense.

RONALD RIML's picture

You got it...

Actually it was 'Rib-eye'

And it went down very well, too. Ronald eats very well at Vodka drinkers expense, too....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Good for you...

Good for you...

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

No doubt. Never had grilled

No doubt. Never had grilled prime rib except for the times I order it in a restaurant and there's enough blood in the plate to justify calling 911. I imagine that gets thrown on a grill, and God knows what else they do to it, after the customer having had the audacity to send it back to the kitchen for 'alteration'.
What'd you do?; just had some left-over prime rib and threw it on the grill?

RONALD RIML's picture


had a 'brain-fart'

grilled a rib-eye

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Always a good cut.

Always a good cut.


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