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Three weeks ago, I would have said that a federal government shutdown was a long shot. However, the antics coming from Washington have surprised even me.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Let’s face the facts. The federal shutdown is hurting Maine. Federal contracts are going unpaid, and federal programs are at risk of running out of money. This has a direct and indirect impact to Mainers, our businesses and our economy.

Now two weeks into the shutdown, the gridlock in Washington has forced layoffs of state employees and closed Maine’s federal parks. The longer this shutdown drags on, the more harm will be done to Maine’s economy.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it. We cannot count on the federal government to solve our problems.

Even before the shutdown, the federal government halted revenue to care for our mentally disabled patients at Riverview. The federal government is reducing money for food stamps on November 1, and a power failure prevented the use of EBT cards over the weekend.

Last week, I issued a civil emergency. Previous Maine governors have declared civil emergencies for much lesser reasons, and it is an authority exercised in times when the Governor needs flexibility to manage an emergency. What makes this emergency unlike others is the uncertainty surrounding the federal shutdown. We don’t know when it will end.

Many liberal politicians claim my action was a “power grab”. The only power I am interested in is protecting state employees who are laid off or are facing a lay off and minimizing disruption to state services.

As a businessman, when I knew incoming revenues were not going to be enough to pay the bills, I had to take action to compensate for the loss in revenue. My approach to this situation is similar. The federal government is not paying their bills to the states during the shutdown.

Many believe that the federal government will reimburse Maine for any costs we incur to pay for federally funded state employees. I hope this is the case. However, my office has received no guarantees from the federal government or Congress that we will be reimbursed.

The Governor does not have the authority to move money from one part of the budget to another. Only the Legislature can do that.

Maine is caught in a difficult situation because of our reliance on the federal government. As challenging as these times are right now, we must seriously question how beneficial it is to depend on the federal government for so much.

Thank you for listening.

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