Weekly Radio Address: Sen. Alfond
Good morning. This is Assistant Democratic Leader, Senator Justin Alfond of Portland.
Earlier this week, lawmakers returned to the State House to reconvene for the second session of the 125th Legislature. In the six months since we’ve adjourned, lawmakers have spent time talking to people and businesses in our districts. The message we heard was clear: Mainers are tired of political distractions and want to get Maine back on track. Democrats remain committed to focusing on what matters most to Maine people: real solutions that get Maine people and our economy working again.
We also know that, much like last session, we will be presented with issues that not only threaten the very core of our Maine values but will also distract from what matters most, the economy and jobs.
As expected the budget is already dominating the headlines.
Earlier this week, Democrats made a conscious decision to not sign the governor’s DHHS budget proposal. While many consider signing the budget proposal as customary, Democrats strongly believe that a signature is an endorsement. As Democrats, we have taken a stand against a current proposal that is reckless and irresponsible.
Democrats, like our colleagues across the aisle, want a balanced budget. But we must have a budget that is truthful, legal, and compassionate. The current proposal is none of these things. The approach is wrong. And the solution is one that will only create more problems and harm for Maine people.
Lawmakers are being asked to consider supporting a proposal that has been a moving target. For weeks, lawmakers have asked for an explanation for the shortfall and verification of the math. To date, sufficient answers have not been provided. Furthermore, with each passing week, the numbers in the budget keep changing. How can anyone, lawmakers or public alike, have any confidence in what is being proposed? And, to make matters worse, the governor has paraded a litany of false accusations for why Maine’s safetynet is the cause of the state’s financial woes.
Plainly, Democrats are asking for a proposal that is truthful with numbers that are real. We want a proposal that complies with state and federal regulations—not one that violates our state’s mental health consent decree or violates federal law. And most importantly, we need a plan for the thousands of Mainers who may be kicked off anti-poverty programs.
The governor and DHHS Commissioner must be accountable for their proposal and the impact it will have on more than 60,000 Maine people’s lives and their families. We must act responsibly, not hastily or with political motivation, when searching for a solution to our state’s budget issues.
Democrats are confident and are ready to work but first we must have valid numbers and a real explanation for the shortfall—not excuses based in partisan ideology or political maneuvering. We must know where we are to understand where we’re going.
While the governor has publicly promised to push the legislature harder, it is the hope of my Democratic colleagues and I, that this administration will begin to set a tone of collaboration—not bullying and posturing. Democrats know that tough decisions will have to be made. And, we’re ready to make them. It’s time to get to work, come up with sustainable solutions that work for Maine people and strengthen our state’s future.
Thank you for listening. This is Assistant Democratic Leader, Justin Alfond. Have a great weekend and happy new year!