AUGUSTA – Senate President Justin Alfrond (D-Portland) said in 2008 Maine could potentially solve its budget problems by not honoring the State’s debt obligations to hospitals. Alfond’s comments surfaced in a short video recently released by the Maine Republican Party.
In the video, Alfond describes his suggestion to not pay the state’s bills as one of three ‘meaningful cuts.’
The Maine Republican Party released the following statement: “This video is just one more piece of evidence that Maine’s Democratic leaders have never been serious about paying off the hospital debt. This video is all the explanation the people of Maine need to illustrate how we got to this point,” said Maine Republican Party Chairman Richard M. Cebra. “Is it any surprise that Democratic leadership is trying to avoid paying their bills now?” “This is a mess they created under the Baldacci administration. They grew welfare and refused to pay the hospitals,” he added.
“We have to wonder, would the more than 300 hospital workers that have lost their jobs, and the thousands of hospital employees who have lost benefits and pay agree with Justin Alfond? Is not paying the state’s hospital bills is a meaningful cut? Are their jobs not important?” asked Cebra.
The House Republican Office released the following statements: “This video explains why we owe Maine’s hospital’s almost $500 million today,” said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport). “Today, Senator Alfond says he wants to pay this debt, but he and the Democrats have not signed on to the Governor’s responsible plan to do so. Until they do, I have to believe that they haven’t changed their view since 2008. It’s time to start paying our bills and creating jobs. Letting the liquor revenue go into the general fund would simply enable the expansion of the program that created this debt in the first place.”
“It’s amazing to me that the day after Senator Alfond and Democrats started arguing for an expansion of Medicaid, we see a video that shows how they created hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by expanding that very program and letting their bills pile up,” said Assistant Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapelton). “As the Lewiston Sun Journal’s editorial board wrote this morning, the only way to realistically pay the hospital debt is with the Governor’s plan. Without a revenue bond, there is nothing to hold the Democrats to their empty promise to pay off the debt.”
According to the Maine Hospital Association’s website, the state’s debt has caused a loss of roughly 300 hospital jobs, frozen wages and reduced benefits, delayed payments to vendors, delayed necessary capital and maintenance projects, and even the closure of a maternity ward.