BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill Friday that would close a $32 million gap in the state's $6.3 billion budget next fiscal year and remove hundreds of developmentally disabled residents from waiting lists for such Medicaid services as home-based care.
In his veto message, LePage said he can't support a budget "that uses gimmicks to keep it balanced." He opposes a provision that extends the cycle of Medicaid payments to providers, which is expected to save the state $20 million.
"This bill is another example of kicking the can down the road so the controversial and tough decisions can be made after the next election," he said. LePage is up for re-election in November, and the bill provides funding for the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2015.
Democratic lawmakers blasted LePage's veto and said they were confident that the Legislature would vote to overturn his rejection.
The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and 133-8 in the House. Members from both parties praised the proposal, saying it would help those who are greatly in need.
"For the past two years, Gov. LePage has made himself irrelevant to the budget process and this veto letter only proves it," Democratic Sen. Dawn Hill of York said in a statement. "He demonstrates a lack of understanding for what this budget does and how government works."
LePage says the bill claims to fund the waitlists and help nursing homes, but the "so-called funding is not being made available until 2016." He said there isn't enough funding to eliminate the waiting lists or keep struggling nursing homes open.
The Legislature planned to return Thursday to consider several vetoes from LePage. It will need two-thirds majority support in both chambers to override the vetoes.