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Medicaid spending from Maine’s last expansion of welfare is already crowding out revenue for all other state agencies. Now liberals want to expand welfare again. This will be disastrous for state government.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Liberals say that expanding Medicaid is free. They say the federal government will foot the bill. They don’t tell you it would cost Maine taxpayers millions of dollars. On top of that, DHHS would have to hire 90 to 100 new employees to administer the 100,000 people that will join Maine’s welfare rolls.

Folks, nothing is free. The federal government will not pay for all these new state employees. It will not pay for all other administrative costs. This will impact every agency in state government.

We’ve been down this road before. Maine already expanded welfare. Medicaid enrollment more than doubled. Its cost has grown by 1.3 billion dollars. It racked up a welfare debt of 750 million dollars to our hospitals.

Reduced federal money has forced Maine to spend an additional 210 million dollars between 2010 and 2014.

Medicaid now consumes 25 percent of all General Fund revenue. If liberals succeed in expanding welfare again, Medicaid will devour 45 percent of the General Fund.

State government has already eliminated or reduced funding for education, law enforcement, economic development and protection of our natural resources. Quite simply, Medicaid is cannibalizing revenue from all other state agencies.

That means the state cannot fully pay its 55 percent share of local education costs. It cannot hire more Maine State Troopers or repair National Guard facilities. The state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct scientific marine research on Maine’s fisheries.

The state cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.

Expanding welfare a decade did not increase access or improve the quality of care. It did not help uninsured Mainers. Thousands of elderly and disabled are still on waiting lists.

We must help Maine families prosper, improve the business climate and protect our most vulnerable Mainers. We cannot do that while Medicaid is eating up our limited financial resources.

I ask you: “What is different this time around?”

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