Democratic Weekly Radio Address: Rep. Eves: Devastating budget cuts will impact all Maine people

Posted: December 16, 2011 | Weekly Radio Address

Weekly Radio Address: Rep. Mark Eves

Good morning, I’m Rep. Mark Eves from North Berwick.

Thank you for tuning in.

During the last week, hundreds of Maine people have packed the State House to testify against the governor’s devastating and irresponsible budget cuts.

The message has been loud, clear, strong, and persuasive: The governor’s budget will harm children, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities.

As a member of the Health and Human Services Committee, I’ve had the privilege to hear the stories directly from many of our neighbors who will be impacted by these cuts.

This proposed budget touches every Maine citizen in one way or another.

·         65,000 Mainers will lose their health insurance

·         6,000 Mainers, including veterans, the elderly, and the mentally ill will likely become homeless.

·         70,000 seniors and people with disabilities will lose help paying for their prescription drug coverage.

·         Children will lose mental health services and hundreds of the state’s poorest children will be kicked out of Head Start, one of the most effective programs in improving and ensuring educational success for vulnerable children.

·         Economists tell us these cuts will result in the loss of 4,400 jobs across our state.

All of these proposed cuts will shift costs to local hospitals, cities, and towns, which in turn will pass those costs to tax payers by increasing private insurance premiums and property taxes. That’s why Republican and Democratic lawmakers rejected many of these cuts last time the governor proposed them earlier this year.

If we kick thousands of Mainers off of health insurance, Maine people will literally pay the price.

The governor’s proposal will cause more problems than it solves.  It jeopardizes our economy and our public health and safety.

Maine should be proud that we have one of the lowest rates of uninsured populations in the country.   As result, we have been ranked among the healthiest states.

The governor’s proposal is a dangerous race to the bottom.

We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from the governor blaming increased enrollment in MaineCare, the state Medicaid program, for the claimed $220 million shortfall in his administration’s budget.

The truth is that MaineCare enrollment has grown by just over 2 percent, accounting for only 6.5 million of the shortfall.  The governor’s own analysis of the shortfall shows the cause was poor planning by his department of health and human services – they built their budget on poor assumptions and questionable estimates.

They underestimated costs, failed to plan for the loss of certain federal dollars, and fired the nonpartisan experts that could help them — all while providing a tax cut that primarily benefits the wealthiest Maine people.

Now, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Unfortunately, instead of taking responsibility for his mistakes, the governor has launched a public relations campaign to distort the truth, distract from the facts, and confuse the public. His budget is simply another attack against the anti-poverty programs that have stabilized so many working families during these tough economic times.

While his office generates fancy misleading charts and graphs for his press conferences, working families, the elderly, and the mentally ill wait in fear for their future.

Democrats hope to work across the aisle with Republican lawmakers, who have stood up with us in the past, against the governor’s extreme proposals. We must work towards a fair solution to balance the budget.

Thank you for listening, I’m Rep. Mark Eves.