AUGUSTA, Maine — Shortly before the supplemental budget bill was scheduled to come up in the Maine House on Thursday, Gov. Paul LePage sent out a statement.
Here it is:
“I cannot put my signature on a bill that largely ignores welfare reform. I have major concerns about the overspending in the General Assistance welfare program. Spending in this welfare program has grown from nearly $7 million in 2008 to a projected $14.3 million in 2013. I am looking at a way to sustain our welfare programs. This budget keeps Maine on the same path it’s been on for 40 years and I will not be held hostage and forced to sign a budget that is irresponsible.
“We must be forward thinking and look to how we can afford these types of programs in the future. Kicking the can down the road accomplishes nothing. There is no structural change to our welfare system in this budget, and in fact, the changes made to general assistance only maintain the system until the end of the year. This is not a proposal I can support.”
It will be interesting to see if his comments have any effect on the Legislature. The budget can become law without his signature and he did not use the word ‘veto’ anywhere in the statement. The word ‘welfare’ appears four times.
The supplemental budget that’s before the House was significantly reworked by the Appropriations Committee over the last several weeks before it was approved unanimously. The General Assistance piece was one of the major sticking points.
LePage’s comments on Thursday were somewhat predictable. He hasn’t been happy with any of the budgets that have come out of the Appropriations Committee since he’s been governor. He even threatened to veto the biennial budget that passed last year.
In many cases, including with this budget, lawmakers have stripped or altered many proposals the governor’s has sought.