By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
When I became mayor, I made a promise that I would address the welfare fraud being committed by the out-of-town transients that blow weekly into Lewiston. I have worked with Lewiston’s welfare director, Sue Charron, developing legislation and finding legislative sponsors to introduce bills aimed at eliminating fraud and abuse.
I am happy to report that we are on the verge of achieving our goal.
In the next few weeks, this column will present detailed plans designed to improve the livability and marketability of our town. In order to achieve these goals, you, the reader, will be asked to perform a simple task.
By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Early in February, the Sun Journal headline described a “Lewiston, Auburn Mayoral Spat.” That spat resulted from my reaction to comments by Mayor Jonathan LaBonté of Auburn during a meeting with Governor LePage. At that meeting and elsewhere, Mayor LaBonté stated that the Twin Cities have been sitting on a plan that would save $2.7 million a year through closer cooperation, a plan that hasn’t been implemented because of politics and lack of a “fiscal cliff” forcing us to do so.
My concern then and now is that such statements play right into the hands of those who would like to see local government pick up the tab for the state budget through the elimination of municipal revenue sharing and other state supported programs.
Guess what? I was right.
By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
It turned out better than I had hoped. The news conference held in Lewiston City Hall announcing that 84 people had been removed from our welfare rolls—50 of whom will be prosecuted criminally—caused a ripple effect from Bangor to Wells.
Legislators are now asking city and town administrators what’s being done to curb welfare abuse and fraud in their respective areas. These managers are now seeking the same answers from their welfare directors. The match has been lit.
Several weeks ago in this column, readers were informed of what our crack welfare staff had uncovered. The numbers were given, but nothing further was said. This was because timing is everything. Our news conference on Tuesday, March 26 was deliberately scheduled two days before the Legislative hearings on welfare were slated to begin.
Lewiston hospitals are owed $29 million
By Bruce Poliquin
Around 2002, Maine state government started practicing some odd bookkeeping: it began paying Maine hospitals less than they were owed for services provided to our rapidly growing low-income Medicaid population.
The state simply chose not to pay, for example, the full contracted amount for the ambulance, tests, medication and nurse/doctor care for a Medicaid patient treated at an emergency room. In many cases, the hospitals were not fully paid for several years so Augusta could plug recurring holes in its annual budgets.
Today, Maine’s 39 hospitals are owed $484 million for services they have already provided back to 2009. This ongoing hospital debt is the direct result of our huge and expensive Medicaid program, called MaineCare, which was originally created as a health care safety net for our most vulnerable residents.
Here are the top five hospital bills owed by the state:
Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor: $72 million
Maine Medical Center, Portland: $68 million
Central Maine Medical Center, Lewiston: $51 million
MaineGeneral Medical Center, Augusta: $45 million
St. Mary’s Medical Center, Lewiston: $29 million
House Republican leaders Rep. Ken Fredette (R-Newport) and Alexander Willette (R-Mapleton) applauded Governor LePage’s message in his State of the State address Tuesday night. The speech was delivered in the House Chamber before a joint session of the Legislature.
“I think the Governor struck the right tone of passionate advocacy for Maine children and families,” said Rep. Fredette. “Our policies must, above all else, ensure that Mainers have bigger paychecks, lower bills, and our children have a brighter future right here in the state that we love.”
In his speech, Governor LePage emphasized the need for education reform, for more affordable energy and to pass his plan to retire Maine’s hospital debt.
House Republicans fully support the Governor’s goal of bringing an end to the educational status quo and implementing reforms that give Maine parents more choice, better prepare students for the workplace, and deliver more accountability and transparency to Maine’s schools.
By Laurent F. Gilbert
The NRA’s war against America. That’s right, the new National Rifle Association is not the old NRA that published an outstanding magazine called “Field and Stream.” It enjoyed the support of hunters and sports enthusiasts all over the country.
As time wore on, the leadership got into bed with the gun-making industry and through its minions went to war on any and all gun legislation under the guise of protecting the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Even strict constructionist and right-leaning Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has said that the right to bear arms isn’t absolute and could be changed in the future. As far as I’m concerned, the future is now.
When will we, as law-abiding citizens, demand that our legislators develop enough intestinal fortitude and political will to enact legislation to hopefully reduce the needless deaths that occur daily in our country? That’s right, 34 people are killed every day with the use of guns. That’s well over 12,000 people killed with the use of guns every year. Add to that another 18,000 suicides for a total of 30,000 deaths. That comes close to the entire population of Lewiston wiped out in one year. The NRA fights everything and anything that could reduce these needless deaths. To me, that is their war on America!
By Governor Paul R. LePage
Many Mainers know what it is like to juggle their bills until payday arrives. Imagine waiting four years.
That’s the reality for Maine’s 39 community hospitals. It is difficult to believe, but hospitals in dozens of Maine communities have not received payment from the State for Medicaid services they provided dating back to 2009.
Central Maine Medical Center is owed $50.2 million; St. Mary’s Medical Center, $28.9 million; Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, $15.4 million; Stephens Memorial in Norway, $6 million; and Bridgton and Rumford hospitals, $4.2 million apiece.
That’s more than $100 million in outstanding debt owed to the hospitals in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford Counties and a substantial portion of the total $484 million due statewide.
Because the State of Maine is addressing its hospital debt, Governor Paul R. LePage said he will support $205 million in bonds, including issuing all those authorized by Maine voters.
Governor LePage said the state’s hospitals will be paid the $484 million they are owed. By issuing $205 million in bonds, that is a total direct investment of nearly $700 million into Maine’s economy in 2013.
The state owes Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston $50.2 million, and it owes $28.8 million to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Lewiston.
The Governor announced Tuesday he has submitted emergency legislation to the Revisor’s Office that will authorize the state to immediately issue a revenue bond on its future liquor sales when enacted. The state will retain operational control over liquor sales starting in the summer of 2014 when the current 10-year private contract expires.
While much focus has been placed on Governor LePage’s proposal to suspend revenue sharing payments to municipalities in order to balance the state’s budget, several important aspects of the proposal have gotten less attention.
Gov. LePage’s proposal prioritizes education, maintaining funding for Maine schools after they received a $63 million boost in the last biennial budget. The Baldacci Administration cut education funding by $100 million in its final three years.
The budget proposal also addresses the workforce skills gap by restructuring the apprenticeship program and increasing funding by over $1 million for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates. Furthermore, schools will receive an additional $15 million in incentives to improve efficiency and accountability.
By Gov. Paul LePage
This week, newly elected officials across our country and state started what is supposed to be the work of the people. Budget talk has dominated discussions for months, and the so called fiscal cliff is starting to hit home for many Mainers.
Maine’s average household income is about $48,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the federal payroll tax change will affect thousands of working families, leaving them with less money.
An average family will lose about $1,000 from their paycheck in 2013 because of the payroll tax change—a decrease that will likely make it difficult for Mainers to pay their own bills.
I am proud to share with Mainers that the tax cuts passed by the Maine Legislature in the last biennium will save a family of four with an income of $48,000 a little more than $300 annually.