During an interview on WVOM radio this morning, Maine's Gov. Paul LePage (R) promised to veto every bill passed by the Legislature until the state pays hospitals what they are owed in back Medicaid payments.
Maine's 39 hospitals are owed $484 million in overdue Medicaid reimbursements, dating back nearly a decade.
During the interview with hosts Ric Tyler and George Hale, LePage said:
I'm meeting with the Senate President today and I'm gonna lay out a little plan that I have: every single bill that is passed now until the hospital payment is passed is gonna be vetoed. If they don't want to run government - if we can pass an overnight conceal weapon and we can pass bills - emergency bills - to open uh, to open - on St. Patty's Day we can open bars at 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on a Sunday, that's more important than paying the hospitals then I think we have a problem. If they don't want to pay the hospitals, if they can pass legislation in 24 hours, I don't see why the hospitals haven't been passed and the money not in the hands of the hospitals, and until they move forward on that, I'm not moving forward on any legislation.Listen to the entire segment here. WVOM is your typical right wing talk radio station.
Nothing. And I don't care if it's my bills. I'll veto my own bills.
Gov. LePage has a bill before the Legislature that would renegotiate the state's liquor contract with the hope of raising enough money to settle the Medicaid debt. Medicaid is known as MaineCare in Maine.
The Legislature recently enacted a $153 million supplemental budget that will leave the state's books balanced at the end of the fiscal year, 30 June 2013. Gov. LePage refused to sign the bill, which became law despite that.
Gov. LePage has had a mercurial two years in office, sometimes angering members of his own party. After Democrats regained control of both chambers of the Legislature last November, many have expected things in Augusta to become even more contentious. Last week, speaking in regards to negotiations about to begin on the next biennial budget that begins on 1 July 2013, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R) suggested that shutting down the state government is a possibility.
Ben Grant, chair of the Maine Democratic Party, released this statement in response to Gov. LePage's veto threat:
From Washington to Maine, we’re seeing the same political strategy by Republicans. Create a crisis and use it as a bargaining chip to get what they want. We’ve seen it employed over and over again by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell in Washington and now we’re seeing the same strategy play out in Maine politics. First it was Fredette threatening to shut state government down and now it’s Paul LePage threatening to veto any bill until he gets what he wants.Update: At the Maine Fishermen's Forum this morning, Gov. LePage was asked about his promise made earlier on WVOM. Just watch:
It’s time for us to stop pretending that the Republican Party wants to do what’s best for this country and this State and realize that all they really want to do is undermine government and it’s ability to meet the needs of Maine people. Today there is only one legitimate party that is trying to do the people’s work, that's the Democratic Party.