Round-up: Alexander and the gov’s race, $2 billion for roads, and Utah’s gay marriage double-take

Another day, another #mepolitics roundup. 

Cutler, Michaud weigh in on Medicaid expansion study

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler held a press conference Tuesday morning to blast the Medicaid feasibility study conducted by the Alexander Group and to call for Gov. Paul LePage, his Republican opponent in 2014, to be “fired.”

Alexander’s report includes a dire prediction for an increase in Maine’s poverty roles of more than 31 percent, a forecast far out of whack with what other outfits have predicted. That assumption drives the $807 million price tag Alexander has put on expansion. Cutler says that by touting the report, LePage is saying his economic plan has failed.

“By standing on this report, he has implicitly declared his own policies a failure and has given up on Maine’s future,” Cutler said. “Instead of leading the way with a vision and a plan for Maine that all of us — Independents, Democrats and Republicans – can get behind and support, he has painted a bleak and depressing picture for Maine’s young people.”

Brent Littlefield, LePage’s campaign chief, had this response to Cutler: “Liberal-independent Eliot Cutler is desperate for attention. Maine is on the move thanks to Gov. LePage’s policies which have created over 11,000 new private sector jobs along with the lowest unemployment rate since 2008.”

Reached for comment, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, his party’s candidate for governor, also weighed in:

“It’s clear that this was an illegitimate report that was a complete waste of taxpayer funds,” Michaud wrote. “Rather than wasting time with political attacks we should move on, correct the record and focus on the facts: expanding access to Medicaid will provide health care to 70,000 Mainers and save the state hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade. It’s the right thing to do.”

Maine DOT unveils three-year, $2 billion work plan

The plan for work to Maine’s roads and bridges over the next three years includes 1,600 projects across the state. Voters in November approved a $100 million transportation bond that filled in the gaps needed to pay for needed infrastructure work and leveraged additional outside funding.

This year alone, DOT will embark on 425 capital projects with combined total value of $455 million. That work includes replacement or repair of 54 bridges, 73 miles of state roads, 63 highway spot-safety projects, and 25 capital projects at ports, rail and airports.

In a statement, Gov. Paul LePage said: “Our transportation infrastructure is the backbone that delivers economic opportunities and good paying jobs to Maine.  That’s why I will continue to support Maine DOT’s innovative efforts to upgrade our transportation system, and to keep stretching that buck.”

If you made it home safely over that one huge pothole on your daily commute, you can click here to see a list of projects scheduled for your hometown. Plus, here’s a list of large projects DOT will undertake in the next three years:

  • Replacement of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Kittery, a $160 million project for which New Hampshire will share the cost;
  • Replacement of the bridge between Howland and Enfield at $17 million;
  • Replacement of the Route 1 viaduct in Bath, $14 million;
  • Replacement of the Union Street Bridge in Bangor, $8 million;
  • 11 miles of highway reconstruction on Route 302, $23 million;
  • 4.8 miles of highway reconstruction on Route 3 in Bar Harbor, $14 million;
  • 9.8 miles of new highway construction in Presque Isle, $12 million;
  • Capital investment at the International Marine Terminal in Portland, estimated at $7 million;
  • Reconstruction of the Eastport breakwater, $11 million;
  • Capital investment at the Brunswick Executive Airport, estimated at $10 million. 

Campaign finance reports due

Candidates for office in Maine who raised or spent more than $500 last year must file campaign finance reports today. Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud has already announced that he raised more than $700,000 in the most recent filing period, from July through December, 2013. We’ll report more totals today, as they come.

The deadline applies to all traditionally funded candidates, which includes all three major candidates for governor.

Maine will recognize Utah same-sex marriages, obviously

The Human Rights Campaign sent a perplexing letter to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills yesterday, urging her to recognize the same-sex marriages performed in Utah while such unions were briefly legal from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court enjoined the state from performing further marriages pending a legal appeal.

Maine legalized same-sex marriage by popular referendum in 2012, and part of that law directs the state to recognize legal marriages of same-sex couples from other states. So that letter to Mills seemed a bit … redundant.

Mills responded Monday afternoon, saying “Maine statute is clear that any marriage that was performed legally in another state and that would otherwise be legal in Maine will be given full faith and credit under Maine law.”

Much more interestingly, she also took the opportunity to lobby for the U.S. Supreme Court to make same-sex marriages legal nationwide. “This issue raises the notion that some Americans are not being treated equally and are being denied the right to marry the person they love. I hope that the Supreme Court will use this opportunity to right this wrong in Utah, as they have elsewhere.”

Maine GOP gets a new look

On Monday, the Maine Republican Party redesigned its mainegop.com website. The overhaul was conducted by Realign Tactical, the new media outlet founded by Maine native, former Susan Collins staffer and current Republican Governors Association new media guru Matt Gagnon. (Disclosure: Gagnon also blogs for the Bangor Daily News as Pine Tree Politics.)

Public hearing on Medicaid expansion scheduled today

The fun never ends for members of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. After holding a Q&A with Gary Alexander yesterday before conducting their regular business, the lawmakers are back at 9 a.m. this morning to hold a public hearing on Democrats’ biggest legislative priority: Medicaid expansion. It’s sure to be a packed room.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House.