It turns out the Legislature isn’t the only branch of government that Gov. LePage regards with contempt.

On the eve of his administration’s appearance before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, LePage announced if they don’t come down on his side of a Medicaid expansion question, he’ll defy it.

“The one thing I know is nobody can force me to put the state in red ink and I will not do that,” he said Thursday in a radio appearance on WVOM. “I will go to jail before I put the state in red ink. And if the court tells me I have to do it, then we’re going to be going to jail.”

LePage is required to expand Medicaid eligibility according to a law that was passed by the voters last year. But LePage has refused to act, blowing deadlines, leading to a Superior Court opinion ordering him to get moving, which LePage has appealed.

The hearing before the Law Court is scheduled for July 18, but last week LePage went on the radio bragging that he would not comply if it doesn’t go his way.

It’s clear that after seven years, LePage still doesn’t understand his job. He is the governor, not the king, and his power is limited.

The Legislature writes the laws, the courts interpret the laws and he, as the executive, is supposed to enforce them. He has the constitutional prerogative to veto legislation, which he has done with Medicaid seven times, but he can’t veto the voters and he can’t veto the courts.

Announcing ahead of time that he would accept only a favorable ruling from the state supreme court shows that the only opinion he respects is his own.

Leave it to Gov. LePage to try to make it all about him. But it’s not about him.

It’s about the estimated 70,000 Mainers who don’t get health insurance through work and can’t afford to buy it on the individual market. They include people who work part time, independent contractors and caregivers who stay home with elderly parents, young children or family members with disabilities.

Their ranks also include people who are struggling to overcome substance use disorders, including the thousands of Mainers who can’t access treatment for the opioid addiction that is killing more than one Mainer a day. LePage’s policies, including his multiple vetoes of Medicaid expansion, have likely contributed to that death toll, starving treatment providers of paying customers, forcing them to shut their doors at a time when they should be expanding.

LePage and his allies argue that Medicaid would bust the state budget, even though the federal government would pay more than $9 for every $1 spent by the state, pumping $500 million a year into the state economy. If this were a defense expenditure or a road project, LePage and the others would be touting the economic benefit it would deliver. But since it’s health care for low-income Mainers, they say we can’t afford it.

Now LePage is headed to court, claiming that he can’t begin submitting required paperwork to the federal government until the Legislature identifies a perpetual funding source for the state’s share.

The Legislature passed a bipartisan bill that would have given him all the money needed to fund the program for the rest of this budget year, but LePage vetoed it, and he held enough votes in the House to narrowly prevent an override.

The governor should not get to decide which laws he feels like enforcing. The judges should treat his position with the same regard he has for them.

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