‘Ya Mon!’ LePage will give up pension for fast action on hospital debt

Gov. Paul LePage may be relaxing on vacation in Jamaica, but he hasn’t relaxed his focus on paying down the state’s $484 million Medicaid debt to its hospitals.

The governor’s office issued a tweet shortly before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday that read, “News Flash from Jamaica: If Democrats have my hospital bill on my desk by Saturday, I will give up my pension. Ya Mon!”

“It’s a reflection of the reality of the speed at which he’d like the hospital bill could go through,” LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said Wednesday. “It’s an indication that while he is in Jamaica, he’s still thinking about work.”

LePage first unveiled his plans for repaying the state’s hospital debt using increased proceeds from a renegotiated state liquor contract in mid-January. He’s made his hospital debt bill a priority throughout the winter months, promising to veto any legislation that comes across his desk before his debt payback bill.

The mention of his gubernatorial pension is a reference to a bill sponsored by Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash that sought to strip LePage of his pension if he isn’t elected to a second term. A legislative committee Monday rejected that measure in an 11-1 vote.

Meanwhile, LePage signed two bills before leaving for Jamaica, and he let two additional bills become law Tuesday without his signature.