43 Days later John Martin & liberal Legislators still delaying reform

It has now been 43 days since Governor LePage introduced his plan to close the structural shortfall in the DHHS budget while preserving services for 285,000 Maine people who need services the most.

What has happened since?

Not much, unless you count the political attacks.

A lot of political games have been played. Television and radio appearances have been made by those who oppose any reform. As a result the people of Maine have been bombarded with accusations; scare tactics; slanted journalism; temper tantrums by veteran legislators on the far left; and question after question raised which only seeks to delay and oppose any meaningful reform.

Now it is time to act. It is time for the Legislature to end the delays and fix the problem at hand.

SEND A MESSAGE HERE, NOW TO THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE – TELL THEM TO END THE DELAYS AND FIX THE DHHS BUDGET NOW.

Who is leading this fight against reform? One of the same people who put Maine in this position in the first place, a Legislator who has spent decades in the Capitol voting for higher taxes, huge budgets, job choking red tape and consistently opposing reform: Mr. Martin.

You may know Mr. John Martin.

Bouncing between the House and Senate he has held power in one way or another in Augusta since the 1970s. As the longest serving Democrat Speaker of the House in Maine history, and one of the longest in the nation, he helped keep the Democrats in power for decades.

It was only after he was forced to resign from Leadership did we learn how Mr. Martin might have kept that power – by stuffing ballot boxes. That’s right in 1992 Martin’s “top aide” was caught stuffing ballot boxes in election recounts. He was caught only because a staff member smelled cigarette smoke. Literally the “smoking gun.”

Opponents of reform claim they want new ideas to solve problems – but they turn to their puppet master, Mr. Martin who was first elected to the Maine House in 1964, 47 years of pulling the strings, to be their leader on budget matters.

Worse, the media runs to Martin’s side every time he attempts to slow down attempts at real reform.

He and his cohorts questioning budget numbers from every angle they could come up with have only returned the very same answer as the first time they were asked; the budget is in trouble. Maine’s welfare rolls have ballooned and we need reform.

Yet, led by Martin, Legislators still delay fixing the problem.

Protests have been orchestrated by special interest groups and hundreds of Op-Eds & letters to the editor have been written by those who depend on keeping Maine’s welfare industry just as it is so they can feed on an ever-increasing supply of your tax dollars.

SEND A MESSAGE HERE, NOW TO THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE – TELL THEM TO END THE DELAYS AND FIX THE DHHS BUDGET NOW. Tell them to stop following the dictates of John Martin. Tell them to fix the problem now.

They too hope that delaying the inevitable might make the problem go away.

So, what has not happened in these 43 days? The shortfall has not been closed; no alternative solutions have been identified, and 285,000 vulnerable Maine people whose services are protected under Governor LePage’s proposal are still at risk. That’s right, they’re at risk because as we speak the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is spending money from next quarter in this quarter and will run out of money on April 1.

Will they now, 43 days after being presented a proposal that preserves services for 285,000 of the most vulnerable Maine people, actually get to work? Or will these Legislators, led by John Martin, continue with their obstruction and hope for a miracle?

Here is a list of some of the people that are at risk if those obstructing reform continue with their current effort to do nothing:

Nursing home residents

Pregnant mothers

Infants & children (including those with disabilities or life threatening illnesses)

Families earning below the federal poverty level

Adults with developmental disabilities

Adults with mental illnesses

And more…

SEND A MESSAGE HERE, NOW TO THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE – TELL THEM TO END THE DELAYS AND FIX THE DHHS BUDGET NOW. Tell them to stop following the dictates of John Martin. Tell them to fix the problem now.

A little background – I recently did a segment on this topic on WVOM FM’s George Hale/Ric Tyler Show which broadcasts out of Bangor. During the segment I pointed out that Rep. John Martin, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, was present for all 11 of the DHHS budget shortfalls that the Baldacci administration faced in 8 years.

There are three things that Rep. Martin and his colleagues never accomplished during those 11 DHHS budget shortfalls: They never put services for 285,000 people in danger so they could attack Governor Baldacci, they never actually made structural reform to put DHHS on solid financial footing and they never refused to get to work to balance the budget.

It’s time for the members of the Appropriations Committee who are obstructing progress to get to work or to step aside to make room for someone who will.

SEND A MESSAGE HERE, NOW TO THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE – TELL THEM TO END THE DELAYS AND FIX THE DHHS BUDGET NOW. Tell them to stop following the dictates of John Martin. Tell them to fix the problem now.

As it stands right now, one of two things is happening: either these members of the Appropriations Committee have no new ideas and are hoping some outside source miraculously solves the problem for them, or they don’t have the political courage to save services for 285,000 people because they fear backlash from the special interest groups that own & operate their political machine.

These members of Appropriations keep asking for numbers in various ways, as if they will somehow turn out differently. As I said on WVOM, once you have established that 2 + 3 = 5 and that 3 + 2 = 5, it’s time to stop questioning, admit that the numbers are accurate and get to work.

Instead, it seems that the goal of these Legislators is to hold out as long as possible, push some more Op-Eds and letters to the editor into Maine newspapers demanding funding from a source where no money exists, and bask in the glory of the political attacks against a Governor who is trying to protect services for 285,000 people.

It doesn’t solve anything, but it sure makes good politics in the eyes of the extreme left.

You can reach out to the Appropriations Committee here and let them know how you feel. Hopefully, like us, you want to see services for truly needy Mainers preserved and structural reforms made.

SEND A MESSAGE HERE, NOW TO THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE – TELL THEM TO END THE DELAYS AND FIX THE DHHS BUDGET NOW. Tell them to stop following the dictates of John Martin. Tell them to fix the problem now.

Services for the most vulnerable should not be put in any more danger by political minded legislators who prefer to sit on their hands in order to allow their political special interest allies to attack the only elected official to date who has put forward a plan that preserves services for those who need them the most.

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P.S. In the interest of full disclosure: If you have been following the DHHS budget developments in the Bangor Daily News, you may have noticed that they have chosen BDN Reporter Jackie Farwell to cover this story.

What they have not disclosed is that on December 20, 2011, Farwell was granted a Fellowship (ie. money) from a foundation in Massachusetts that is supported by MeHAF, the Maine Health Access Foundation (pdf). Sara Gagnè-Holmes of Maine Equal Justice Partners is a Member of MeHAF’s Board of Trustees. She has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Governor’s plan to save services for 285,000 Mainers.

The group has also been the recipient of – you guessed it – Maine taxpayer dollars.

You can learn more about MeHAF here, including other past and present members of MeHAF’s Board of Trustees and Community Advisory Committees, as well as their mission, grants, and their founding in 2002 with an endowment supported by actions of the Maine Legislature.

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