Maine Governor Paul LePage has worked hard to spread the myth that we need to shrink Medicaid before the state’s economy can improve. It is ironic to see New Hampshire (a state often lauded by LePage) moving in the exact opposite direction. New Hampshire recently commissioned a report that concludes, as stated by Gov. Maggie Hassan, “ . . . Expanding Medicaid will help the state by injecting federal money, creating jobs and reducing the amount of uncompensated care at hospitals.”
Another myth LePage has been worked hard to create is that the Charter School Commission is not doing its job. Bill Nemitz explains the very legitimate reasons for the Charter School Commission’s denial of four of the five applications.
A myth that has been central to LePage’s political agenda is that we need to reduce taxes on the wealthy or they will flee the state for lower tax states. Interesting to read that an extensive study by the Stanford Center on Poverty & Equality in California concludes that the millionaire migration myth is just that — a myth: “The result of all that data crunching? The migration of millionaires in and out of the state has almost no relationship to tax increases or tax cuts.”
Myth #1: LePage and Forbes magazine want you to believe that cutting tax rates is the most important thing we can do to bring more business to Maine. Jim Clair, chair of the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission in Augusta, states an educated workforce is far more important: “The single most important factor for a company like mine, which I think is indicative, in many ways, of the way Maine’s economy is going to grow, is by having highly-competent technical people who are prepared to learn the rest of their lives,” Clair says. “That’s our single biggest issue.”
Myth #2: LePage and many Republicans want you to believe that Maine’s social safety net is a magnet for uneducated, unemployed people who move here to join the welfare rolls. However, Charlie Colgan of USM’s Muskie School states most who move here are highly educated: “The majority of the people who moved to Maine from 2005 to 2010 were 18 to 34 years old, and a majority had a college degree or better.”
Meanwhile, Governor LePage, who called off a budget meeting with Democratic leaders a month ago, still has not responded to Senate President Justin Alfond’s dinner invitation and still has failed to meet with Democrats.
Governor LePage has apparently been using all the time he has saved by not meeting with Senator Alfond to work on YouTube videos such as the one released today. The YouTube video is kind of like a press conference, except that there are no reporters present, and the only questions are scripted ones asked by LePage’s press secretary, and the only answers are scripted answers, and LePage gets to repeat tired old lines about his tax cut being not being for the rich, and the they can do re-takes and edit it until it only shows what they want it to show. Like we said, it’s kind of like a press conference — Bin Ladin style.
In the wacky world of contemporary Maine politics, one really does need to ask, “Is today’s news of budget shortfalls totaling $135 million (see here and here) actually good news for Paul LePage?”
One would have to be both a conspiracy theorist and a believer in LePage’s intellect to hold that the LePage administration deliberately overestimated revenues in order to create the current revenue shortfall, which — in turn — is about to trigger the process of curtailment, by which the Maine governor can unilaterally determine which areas of state government to cut.
While it may seem unlikely that LePage deliberately created the budget shortfall, it is likely that he relishes it. All along, LePage’s goal has been to dramatically reduce the size of the government, and the present budget shortfalls give him a mandate to do just that.