Governor Paul LePage is being criticized for “boasting” about the $175.8 million budget surplus when so many Maine families “are hungry, sick, and living in poverty.”
The surplus, announced Monday by the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services, showed that state revenue far exceeded the $129 million projected in March for fiscal year 2018. Following the announcement, LePage took to Twitter claim credit for the windfall, saying it was a result of “responsible tax reforms…cutting taxes and controlling spending.”
But individuals, including Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook), who chairs the House Financial Affairs Committee, were quick to point out that those cuts came at a high cost for many Mainers and that the excess money should now be used “to address the vital needs of Maine families,” including the implementation of voter-approved Medicaid expansion.
“I’m thinking about the conversations that are happening around kitchen tables all across Maine,” said Gattine in a press statement. “People asking themselves how they are going to pay their mortgage, if they can see a doctor, if there is a safe, accessible childcare for their kids and will they be able to pay for college. And, sadly, in too many places the answers are not hopeful or positive.
Gattine said that it’s “great news” that the state’s revenue is so high “because it is now crystal clear that we have the resources to help Maine people live better lives. It also means there is no excuse for delaying expansion of Medicaid, which will inject another $500 million into Maine’s economy and provide life-saving health care to over 70,000 who desperately need it.”
Similarly, James Myall, a policy analyst with the Maine Center for Economic Policy, responded to LePage on Twitter:
Boasting about the “surplus” when Mainers are hungry, sick, and living in poverty is like boasting that you saved money when you stopped buying groceries for your kids #mepolitics https://t.co/UnEuBvNxz2
— James Myall (@JamesxMyall) July 30, 2018
(Photo: Gage Skidmore/ Wikimedia Commons)