Good Morning. This is State Senator Dawn Hill from York.
This week the Republican members of the state’s budget writing committee unilaterally approved a budget that irresponsibly shifts and shafts health care costs for Maine people.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I can tell you that their budget is dangerous and irresponsible to Maine’s economy and Maine people. And worse, it abandons our promise to take care of our state’s vulnerable seniors, children, people with disabilities, and working families.
This budget, like many other GOP measures this session, picks winners and losers and ignores a necessary, balanced approach.
While I am a Democrat, I am also a businesswoman. I get it, that much like a business, state government also needs to look at improving efficiencies, delivery of services, and tightening its belt.
However, unlike a corporate board of directors deciding on their budget for manufacturing widgets, lawmakers in Augusta make budget decisions that impact people.
The Republican budget ignores this and is instead, extreme and will hurt thousands of Maine children, seniors, and others. To be clear, in a year’s time, Governor LePage and his legislative allies will have kicked fifty-thousand Maine people off of health care, if this budget passes.
Specifically, more than five-thousand five-hundred Maine senior citizens with incomes less than $20,000 will have reduced access to affordable medicine and medical care.
The GOP budget will hurt children and working parents by cutting funding for early childhood education programs, including HeadStart. Programs like these help working parents continue working while providing a safe learning environment for their children. It also cuts funding to critical home visitation programs that provide vital services for Maine’s most vulnerable infants and children, often flagging and preventing child abuse.
This is a budget that is based on false promises and shifts costs.
Increasing the number of uninsured Mainers by the thousands is a cost shift that will fall straight on property taxpayers, private insurance holders, and hospitals. It’s a shift and shaft that will hurt our economy and put a strain on working families.
Democrats disagree with this approach. We believe that responsible and reasonable adjustments can be made without hurting our economy or shifting costs onto more Maine people.
Much has been said about “welfare reform” and “structural change”. To be clear, the Republican budget is not welfare reform nor is it structural change. The wholesale removal of people from health care and then labeling it as some sort of structural change is simply misleading.
Republicans have approached this budget with a callousness for people and their personal, financial, and medical situations. Throwing people off of health care, eliminating programs, and cutting services does not take away need. If you are a low-income senior with high prescription costs, you will be forced to choose between paying for your medicine or your rent. Republicans are ignoring that people will continue being sick, they will continue needing their prescriptions, but now, they will have less support and fewer resources.
When asked about the impact of their budget cuts, Republican lawmakers have said they have not assessed the impact but they “hope” it will be minimal. We cannot gamble with people’s lives or base a budget on a wing and prayer—and a hope—that it will be alright.
While Republican lawmakers claim “people before politics,” it seems clear that the opposite is true. This budget is rife with politics that puts dollars ahead of people. This budget makes a calculated political choice as to which people will be casualties of this budget.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Dawn Hill of York. Have a good Mother’s Day weekend.