Rep. Dillingham: Truly needy Maine citizens must come first, but Democrats did not set priorities

Maine House Republican Leader Rep. Kathleen Dillingham (R – Oxford).

Hello, this is Representative Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford, the Republican Leader of the Maine House.

The first session of the 129th Legislature has now adjourned. Previous Republican Radio Addresses have outlined our concerns with the massive, unsustainable budget that Governor Mills proposed along with concerns about the ultra-progressive agenda the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have pushed through. 

We remain concerned about the lack of priorities and the excessive spending that has been a result of this past session.

I have said it numerous times before and it continues to hold true, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

With substantial majorities in the Maine House and Senate and the Governor’s Office, Democrats have the votes to pass any initiatives they so choose but I would caution that this near complete power comes with great responsibilities.

Yet, what we have seen is a lack of priorities and a state budget that spends 99.95% of all available monies, including the surplus accumulated through responsible management under Republicans leadership.

When the one-time monies used in this budget are no longer there, in order to balance future budgets, there will be a need for other yet unknown revenue sources or a willingness to cut programs.  If we do not see continued growth in our economy to provide for those revenue sources, this administration will need to look to an expansion and increase in taxes. 

With this near complete power, Mainers should expect responsibility and thoughtful governance from the one party in control.

Unfortunately, we have seen a total lack of restraint and an inability to set priorities.

Instead, at the expense of hard-working taxpayers, we have seen able-bodied, childless adults who can work and contribute, and the expansion of government programs favored over those who are unable to work, or who require our assistance because of age or infirmity.

There remains a 1,600 person waitlist for Section 21 waivers. These are the most vulnerable people in Maine while dollars for MaineCare expansion were spent to provide free healthcare to able-bodied, childless adults. 

If you are a family member of an adult with a developmental disability, that is crippling. The wait time for assistance can be decades!

People who, through no fault of their own, need our help… will not get it because, according to the Majorities, taxpayer funded abortions and full SNAP, TANF, General Assistance and Maine Care for non-citizens comes first!

We should each be asking if this is responsible prioritization of our tax dollars?

I believe it is not. Mainers deserve better.

In the frenzy to spend every nickel the government took from you, mistakes occurred that have the potential to cause budgetary problems going forward.

Democrats were not content spending only what is currently available; they also created ways to get around spending limits, laying the groundwork for more spending in January.

In the waning hours, without amendments and without language for staff to work from, they removed price tags on items they couldn’t fund. This allowed them to carry over 400 bills to next session.

That is over 20% of all bills submitted this session. By contrast, when Republicans last controlled the House and Senate, only 131 bills were carried over.

These carry-over bills represent tens of millions in potential new spending.

This irresponsible budgeting, lack of spending discipline, and inability to set priorities will impact all Mainers.

Just this week, we learned of a serious consequence this excessive spending without priorities is having on vulnerable seniors.

Funding for nursing home care.

In 2018, a record seven nursing and residential facilities closed their doors because their costs exceeded revenues.

These homes served the communities of Patten, Jonesport, West Paris, Freeport, Bridgton, Fryeburg and Bar Harbor.

That is a serious problem for everyone.

Maine is already the oldest state in the country and, by 2030, Maine’s population over age 65 will increase by 47%. In 1995, there were 132 nursing homes. Today there are 93, a 30% decrease.

To help address this problem, legislative Republicans and Democrats passed legislation to provide emergency funding over the summer to support Maine nursing and residential facilities.

Governor Mills office has not approved the additional funding for nursing homes claiming there would be an impact on federal matching funds which has been contradicted by those in the industry.

This is creating a problem for facilities that are now in the process of setting their rates to mail out to residents and their families.

It is my hope that having to wait up to 6 months for funds that had sweeping bipartisan support does not result in another home closing this summer or fall.

We asked the Governor how she plans to address the mistake, but have not received a response. Some have even gone so far as to imply that Republicans have no right to question how this is going to be fixed because the majority of our caucuses did not support the budget.  This isn’t about a budget, but a piece of legislation that we voted in favor of because we knew it was imperative that these facilities are able to remain open to ensure there is care available for our elderly.  Supporting initiatives because they truly are a priority is vastly different from voting against a fiscally irresponsible budget lacking any clear priorities.

Republicans support policies that benefit everyone… and prioritize the truly needy, not narrow, special interest identity groups.

Please like and follow us on social media and spread the word on what one-party rule is doing to the state we love.

Republicans have proven they can lead on lower taxes, responsible borrowing and setting fiscal policies that grow our economy and create jobs.

If given the chance, we will continue to work for you, the people of Maine!

This has been Representative Kathleen Dillingham with the Republican Radio Address, thank you for listening.

Rep. Kathleen Dillingham represents House District 72Mechanic Falls, Otisfield and Oxford. She is the Republican Leader of the Maine House of Representatives.

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