Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.
Folks, I am a Franco American, and I come from poverty. Like many of the immigrants who made this country great, Franco Americans lived by a simple code: you work hard; you take care of your family; and you pay your bills. Franco Americans are very frugal, and they don't spend money they don't have. They know that if you don't pay your bills, you will face serious consequences. I learned that the hard way very early in life.
But some of the liberal elitists in Augusta don't live by that same code. They believe that government will always provide enough money to pay for whatever programs they want, no matter how expensive they are or how much they burden Mainers.
Most legislators in Augusta agree we should pay one of our biggest bills: the $500 million in welfare debt that we owe to Maine's 39 hospitals. We have been talking about this for months. My plan to pay the hospitals has broad support of Maine citizens, and it has bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats. So what's the hold up?
It's really quite simple. The hold-up comes from just two people: Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves. They are the Democratic leadership, and they are doing everything they can to prevent paying the hospitals.
Even though members of their own party want to pay the hospitals, Alfond and Eves have moved the goal posts once again. Now they won't pay the hospitals unless Maine agrees to another expensive expansion of Medicaid.
Folks, let's call it what it is. Medicaid expansion is welfare expansion. That is a completely separate issue than paying the hospitals the half-a-billion dollars we owe them.
Eves said in February that tying different issues together in the same legislation is "Washington-style politics." Now he is doing exactly that: he is tying the hospital debt to welfare expansion.
To make matters worse, the Maine People's Alliance, a liberal activist organization that controls the Democratic agenda is spreading misinformation about welfare expansion. The Maine People's Alliance activists would have you believe that the expansion of welfare covers children, the disabled, and the elderly, but these people are already covered by our existing welfare system. The expansion would cover able-bodied childless adults.
As soon as my plan is approved, the hospitals will get paid, we will release bonds for infrastructure projects and we will inject $700 million into Maine's economy. This would jumpstart projects that are on hold and create jobs for Maine people. But Democratic leadership would rather rush into welfare expansion -- which caused this mess in the first place -- than put Mainers to work today.
The federal government claims it will fund welfare expansion for three years. After that, there are no guarantees. Maine could face over $100 million in additional welfare spending in each budget after those three years. Despite those looming costs, the Democratic leadership is eager to expand now and ask questions later.
I don't operate that way. I won't spend money we don't have, whether it is today or three years down the road. I am negotiating with the feds for 100 percent coverage for 10 years before I would even consider expanding Medicaid. My cautious approach would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for Maine people.
Again, I go back to my Franco American roots. Maine cannot spend money it does not have, and we must pay the bills. We must not include welfare expansion with the plan to pay the hospitals. These issues have nothing to do with each other.
So let's pay the hospitals and put Mainers back to work. I'm calling on Democratic Leadership to let legislators take a simple up or down vote on my plan. Call Senator Alfond at 287-1515. Call Representative Eves at 287-1300.
Tell them to do the right thing. Tell them to pay the hospitals today.