The following statement was released Tuesday in light of Governor Paul LePage signing the General Fund Budget, which addresses State finances through June 30, 2012. Governor LePage signed the budget Tuesday morning.
"While Maine now has a balanced budget through June, we must look ahead and address the fiscal challenges we face for 2013. In order to make the systemic changes that are needed to put Maine on better financial ground we must work together. As members of the Appropriations Committee begin working toward common ground to resolve the shortfall, I encourage an open dialogue, which acknowledges the need for structural changes within government. 12 percent* of Maine people earn incomes below the federal poverty level while 1 in 3 Mainers receive welfare. We must close the gap and move toward the national average.
Instead of one-time savings that lead us to a deficit year after year, we must have a plan that will sustain Maine programs and services into the future. Structural changes that will generate on-going savings to our welfare programs must be considered. Difficult decisions must be made, but Legislators must summon the courage necessary to restore Maine's fiscal health. The discussion around the issues should be thoughtful, but real changes must be made. I stand ready to work with the Legislature to move Maine forward."