There’s a noise coming from Augusta, but what is it?

Don’t worry. It’s just Paul LePage, Maine’s incorrigible governor, making another outlandish request. He wants a special session of the Legislature to address issues from the recently completed session – all of which are measures that passed over his veto. In other words, he wants a do-over. And lawmakers shouldn’t give him one.

Legislators, according to the governor, failed to fund four bills: raises for employees of state-run psychiatric hospitals in Augusta and Bangor, a needle exchange program, additional county jail appropriations and a study of ambulance staffing.

Now lawmakers have a choice, LePage said in his latest weekly radio address. Either they come back to Augusta and pass his proposal, which “addresses the funding issues in a responsible manner.” Or, he said ominously, he’s prepared “to take action by executive order.”

But Maine’s chief executive is on shaky ground factually, with one exception: The $75,000 needle exchange program wasn’t funded, as we’ve noted, although language in the measure lets the governor shift money from elsewhere in the budget.

However, the $2.4 million county jail appropriations measure was funded. So was the bill hiking salaries at Riverview and Dorothea Dix psychiatric centers.

And in case the state doesn’t have the funds on hand for the $944,000 in raises for mental health workers, the measure directs the state to draw from an existing Department of Administrative and Financial Services account – the same pot of money used to cover the state law enforcement pay increases that were supported by LePage, as the Bangor Daily News pointed out last week.

For the ambulance staffing study, the Department of Health and Human Services already has “certain budgeted resources,” according to the fiscal note attached to that measure.

Where things go from here is anyone’s guess. LePage says the situation is critical. But apparently it’s not dire enough to drive him to contact Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, and House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, or present a concrete proposal to them, the bipartisan legislative leaders told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network on Wednesday.

One thing, though, is clear: Whether the governor is seeking attention, playing politics or some combination of the two, there’s no reason to indulge him and plenty of reasons not to.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under:

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.