The following is the weekly message from Governor Paul R. LePage. To listen to the audio visit the Governor's website.
My fellow Mainers, there are two things you should know about a government shutdown. First, I have no plans for a shutdown. And second, a shutdown is not up to me. It’s up to the legislature.
Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.
The majority party in Augusta has been busy distracting you from the real issues. But time is running out, and they have yet to pass a budget.
The so-called Gang of 11 has proposed a sleight-of-hand plan that gives with one hand and takes with the other. It does not cut one dime of state spending; it does not limit the size of government; and it does not reform how we do business. This plan simply lets legislators avoid making tough decisions and paves the way for more taxing and more spending in the next budget.
Another plan, which is incorrectly called a “tax fairness” bill, recycles a bogus talking point in Maine: “Tax the rich.” This plan to punish successful Mainers by taking more of their money wouldn’t raise enough to fund the wasteful Legislative budget. I guess there aren’t enough rich people left in Maine to tax.
Folks, this is getting ridiculous. More than four months have passed since I proposed a balanced budget. My budget is not tied to any other complicated issues, and it does not raise taxes on Mainers. I examined the revenue we have available, and I proposed a budget that fits within that revenue. We simply cannot spend beyond our means.
But Democratic leadership still wants to spend, spend, spend undefined regardless of how much revenue we have. They are fighting to make sure government keeps growing and growing, no matter how many taxes they have to raise to pay for it.
Just like my balanced budget, more than four months have passed since I proposed a plan to pay the half-a-billion dollars the state owes our hospitals. This plan would inject 700-million-dollars into Maine’s economy, and it would secure a liquor contract that would bring tens of millions of dollars back to Maine every year.
But Democratic leadership won’t let legislators vote on this plan. They’d rather approve their own complicated scheme that could cost Mainers at least 100-million-dollars per biennium.
After four months of delays and distractions, it seems that legislators in Augusta have ordered a shutdown on common sense. They are working overtime to avoid a simple reality: Maine does not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. Our government is too big and too expensive, and it is getting bigger every year.
When I put together my budget, I had to make the tough choices to make sure it was balanced. This was an unpleasant task. I’ve been a mayor. I know what challenges towns and cities are facing. But as mayor, I was able to reduce property taxes and decrease the size of local government without cutting services. It can be done.
Raising taxes is not the only answer. It’s a choice. You can choose to make the difficult decisions and live within your means. Or you can choose to let government grow and raise taxes to pay for it.
When legislators propose their various budget plans, they are thinking of just one thing: government. But when I created my balanced-budget proposal, I wasn’t thinking about lobbyists or special interests or the next election. I was thinking of just one thing: you, the Maine taxpayer.
We will never lift the burden off the Maine taxpayer until we face reality and make the tough choices. But legislators would rather pass a budget that raises taxes than make the right choice for Mainers.
I have no plans to shut down government. But I cannot speak for legislators or why the state employees’ union is threatening a government shutdown. We cannot operate government without the revenue to pay for it. Therefore, legislators must agree on a budget.
I’ve done the hard work, and I’ve made the tough choices. I’ve done my job. Now it’s time for legislators to do theirs.