Governor's weekly radio address

Real solutions or rhetoric? It’s up to Maine citizens

By Gov. Paul LePage | Dec 31, 2011

The following is text from the governor's Dec. 31, 2011, radio address.

"2012 can be a year of promise that moves the Maine economy forward or it can be an election year full of political rhetoric and impasse. I prefer the former.

In 2011, Republicans were able to achieve progress during the 125th first regular session to move Maine ahead.

In my first budget I addressed pension reform. On January 5, the state of Maine faced a $1.3 billion budget shortfall and a $4.1 billion shortfall in the state pension system.

We eliminated $1.7 billion while protecting retirees’ future pensions through sensible reform.

Health care reform was passed that will lead to more affordable insurance.

Red tape was removed from government and the overall attitude within agencies toward its customer, you the Maine citizen, has improved.

As promised throughout my campaign – a 5-year cap on welfare benefits was implemented.

School funding was increased and charter school legislation was adopted.

Maine’s Transportation Department saved more than $100 million which allows more money to be used to improve our roads and bridges this year.

We also lowered the tax burden on Maine people with the largest tax cut in state history. The combination of eliminating brackets, lowering the top rate, and conforming to federal standards means that 70,000 Maine low income families will no longer have to pay any state income tax. Instead, they will be able to keep the money to care for their families.

Additionally, more than 450,000 Mainers will receive tax relief next year. The average tax cut will save taxpayers about $100. That’s 28 gallons of heating oil, groceries for a week, or a couple tanks of gas – things many Mainers could use.

Money isn’t tight only in Augusta. People across our state are pinching their pennies to make ends meet.

Policymakers must follow the lead from those who put them in Augusta and Mainers are demanding their money be spent wisely.

The efforts I’ve mentioned prove that progress has been made and I’m hopeful that legislators can work together to accomplish even more.

Today, the state of Maine is faced with fiscal challenges that the federal government can’t bail us out of.

There are some major shortfalls that still must be addressed to get Maine back on the path to a healthy fiscal state.

As I mentioned earlier, my first budget addressed pension reform. But it also tackled overspending within the Medicaid program.

In February, I proposed ending free health care coverage for childless adults and attempted to implement structural change to the system. Ultimately, those ideas were rejected and today we are confronted with a $221 million shortfall.

I’m not saying that what was proposed then would have fixed the entire problem now, but it would have put us in a more manageable position.

There is a reason the Department of Health and Human Services can’t pay the bills – we are spending what we do not have. If policymakers don’t acknowledge we have been overspending for decades the same results will continue to plague us. Medicaid has grown far beyond its resources and we must prioritize to save the safety net.

Those in need of help, whether young or old deserve a welfare program that is predictable and offers quality access to healthcare.

2012 can be a year of progress or it can be one of impasse. My plan continues to move Maine forward. It outlines initiatives that will improve our education system and lower energy costs. Both of which will help kick start our economy again.

I have said it many times and it is still true. As governor, I cannot create jobs. However, I can work for policies that will help create jobs. I will introduce policies during the next session aimed at building the economy and getting Maine back to work.

So, as the New Year approaches let us ask ourselves what we would like from Augusta – real solutions or rhetoric? It’s up to Maine citizens. Demand more from your elected officials and insist they perform and keep your best interest in mind.

Thank you for listening and I hope you have a safe and Happy New Year."

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.