Senate Republican Leader Says GOP Accomplished Much for Maine Citizens, Despite Being in Minority
AUGUSTA – Maine lawmakers worked into the early hours of Friday, April 18 before finishing the work of the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature. The second session of the Legislature is the shorter of the two and typically concludes in April. The first session lasts until June.
Senate Republican leader Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) says Republicans, despite being in the minority, were able to make major gains on behalf of Maine citizens. The Maine Senate is comprised of 19 Democrats, 15 Republicans, and 1 Independent.
Senator Thibodeau said paying back nearly a half billion dollars in debt to Maine hospitals that was the result of Medicaid services that went unpaid was among the top accomplishments. “That debt was a black eye for Maine,” Senator Thibodeau said. “In addition to affecting our credit rating, it represented a failure to pay our bills. Thanks to Governor Paul LePage and Republican leadership in the Legislature, we were able to pay down this debt, and in the process secure a state liquor contract that maximizes the proceeds of liquor sales for the State of Maine.
“I am also proud of the fact that we were able to prevent major spending increases proposed by Democrats, including what would have been the largest welfare increase in Maine history. Maine citizens are already surrendering too much of their paychecks to taxes. That’s why my Republican colleagues and I did everything we could to keep spending in check.
“At the same time, we were able to protect the social safety net for those who need it most. The best example of that is the removal of elderly and disabled Mainers from waiting lists for vital services.
“Basic government services, such as maintaining our roads and bridges, were also taken care of.
“We were also able to stop an ill-conceived plan to award an offshore wind project to a foreign oil company by allowing our own University of Maine to compete for the project. As a result, the work to build the windmill platforms will be done here in Maine instead of in a foreign country.
“One of the biggest disappointments was the Legislature’s inability to enact welfare reform. The people of Maine were shocked to learn Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards were being used outside of the state, in places like Disneyworld and Las Vegas, and here in Maine at smoke shops, liquor stores, and other places where welfare benefits should not be used. Maine people are willing to help those in need, but there is growing frustration with abuse of the system, and I was very disappointed in my Democratic colleagues for throwing up roadblocks to every welfare reform proposal.
“But in general, I am very happy with what we were able to accomplish, and I could not be more proud of my Republican colleagues in the Senate,” Senator Thibodeau said.