LePage: 1st Term Accomplishments
- First Term – Highlighted Accomplishments
- Paying Maine’s Bills: Maine’s Overdue Welfare Bill: Nearly $1 Billion in Debt Paid, Jobs Created
- Tax Cuts:Largest Tax Cut in Maine History
- Welfare Reform: Taking Control Against Fraud and Abuse
- Economic Improvement:Improving Maine’s Economy, Lowest Unemployment Rate Since 2008
- Honoring our Veterans: Taking Care of Maine’s Veterans
First Term – Highlighted Accomplishments
The following five accomplishments are from the Governor’s first term and can be found at Office of the Governor. The format has the accomplishment’s main title, sub-title, and bullet points. Full details available at the link provided. The table of contents below is intended to ease in navigation. This page is still under construction. Input is welcome.
Paying Maine’s Bills: Maine’s Overdue Welfare Bill: Nearly $1 Billion in Debt Paid, Jobs Created
Source: Paying Maine’s Bills
After promising the people of Maine he would pay Maine’s hospitals, Governor Paul R. LePage has made good on that promise. More than 150 days after first introducing his plan to pay Maine’s $484 million in hospital debt, the Governor finally had the opportunity on June 14, 2013 to sign LD 1555 “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Hospitals and To Provide for a New Spirits Contract.” He did so with little fanfare citing “it’s simply the right thing to do.”
“Paying our bills is the right thing to do, it’s just unfortunate that Democrats waited so long to make the right decision for the people of Maine,” Governor LePage said.
On January 15, Governor LePage announced his plan to pay $484 million in unpaid Medicaid bills – debt dating back to 2009 – to Maine hospitals. In March, Democrats proposed a “new” hospital plan, which was rejected in Committee. Democrats also claimed the Governor’s bill was unconstitutional before holding the bill up in Committee and refusing to allow a vote. Furthermore, Democrats tried tying Medicaid expansion to the hospital bill in late May, a strategy the Governor vetoed on May 23.
Additionally, the Governor’s plan restructures liquor operations and sales to provide a better return on investment and releases voter-authorized bonds.
The comprehensive plan puts nearly $700 million into Maine’s economy creating health care and construction jobs, and invests millions to pay for clean water and transportation projects, and starts setting aside money for the state’s depleted rainy day fund.
Tax Cuts:Largest Tax Cut in Maine History
Source: Tax Cuts
Under Governor LePage’s leadership major tax reform was passed in 2011. The necessary reform provided $150 million in tax relief – including new tax code changes which conform to federal guidelines and a reduction in Maine’s top income tax rate from 8.5 percent to 7.95 percent that eliminated tax payments for 70,000 low-income Mainers. This represents the largest tax cut in Maine history and allows Mainers to keep more of their hard-earned money.
Additionally, the death tax exemption was doubled, so family businesses don’t die with the owner and the Maine Capitol Investment Credit was created to provide $31 million in tax relief for job creating investments made by businesses in the state that expand.
Welfare Reform: Taking Control Against Fraud and Abuse
Source: Welfare Reform
Welfare reform was a large part of the 2012-2013 budget, which emphasized Maine will no longer be considered a welfare destination state. A new 5 year limit on welfare benefits, which aligns Maine with other states, and conforms to federal law has gone into effect. The limit does allow for certain exemptions for hardship cases – including those involving the elderly and disabled.
Drug testing has also been implemented for welfare recipients convicted of drug crimes and those who violate welfare rules now face stricter sanctions. A first offense will result in the loss of adult benefits and a second offense may lead to termination of full family benefits.
In addition, Dirigo Health will be phased out with an end date of January 1, 2014 and legal noncitizens are no longer eligible for MaineCare benefits as of July 1, 2011.
However, the Governor has made it clear that more work needs to be done. “We must continue make these types of changes to the system, not only to achieve significant savings, but to encourage Mainers to become self-sufficient. This is a down payment on welfare reform and, after implementing these changes and gauging the results, I look forward to doing more,” stated the Governor.
Economic Improvement:Improving Maine’s Economy, Lowest Unemployment Rate Since 2008
Source: Economic Improvement
From January 2011 to July 2013, Maine’s private sector grew by 8,100 jobs, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth may be contributed to a number of initiatives including tax incentives which encourage job creators to invest in Maine and regulatory reform aimed to streamline the licensing and permitting process.
The state’s unemployment rate has also declined since January 2011, from nearly 8 percent to 6.8 percent. During the three years, the LePage Administration has focused on developing job skills and training for Mainers searching for work. Under the Governor’s leadership, the Maine Jobs Council, now referred to as the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB), has been restructured to better address workforce development programs.
“Two of my greatest priorities as Governor relate directly to Maine’s workforce.” Governor LePage said. “We need to ensure students have the skills they need to be productive workers when they graduate, and we must get targeted training to people in the workforce today so that they can be competitive and successful in the job market.”
Honoring our Veterans: Taking Care of Maine’s Veterans
Source: Honoring Maine’s Veterans
The needs of Maine Veterans are being addressed within the Administration as well. Legislation was enacted to ensure that Veterans are given full credit for relevant military training and experience when they apply for an occupational license from the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Steps have already been taken to implement the intent of LD 1850, “An Act To Assist Maine’s Current and Former Members of the United States Armed Forces”, by making sure the expertise of Maine veterans is recognized and valued when they apply for a license.
Additionally, First Lady Ann LePage is a passionate advocate for Maine’s veterans and military families. She is actively involved with the Maine Military & Community Leadership Council, Maine Military & Community Network Program, Operation Tribute, and other programs that support our troops.
Governor and First Lady have dinner with three military families at the Blaine House each month. “This gives us an opportunity to meet with the families one-on-one to learn more about the challenges they face,” Ann LePage said. “There is so much these families sacrifice for us. Their stories are heartwarming and, at times, heartbreaking. We are so grateful for their service.”