Monday, March 10, 2014
Consequences: Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew warned Florida lawmakers on Monday about the potential perils of participating in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion.
Mayhew didn't mention the politics of the issue, which are particularly acute for Republican governors who participate in voluntary portions of a law that their party had hoped to overturn, first via the U.S. Supreme Court, then the 2012 election.
So far, seven Republican governors have, to quote one news commentator, taken the Medicaid "expansion bait." The consequence is scorn from the right flank.
— "How a GOP governor walked into Obamacare's Medicaid expansion trap" – Forbes contributor on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's decision.
— "Gov. Kasich enlists socialized medicine lobbyists to help implement Obamacare" – Red State blog on Ohio Gov. John Kasich's decision.
— "Kasich and Snyder cave to Obamacare" – Ann Coulter's blog on Kasich and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Impact: What’s the impact of Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed zeroing out of municipal revenue sharing for the next two budget years? Let’s look at a (relatively) average-sized city.
Gardiner, population 6,093, is Maine’s 53rd biggest municipality by population. At a recent city council meeting, colleague Paul Koenig of the Kennebec Journal reported that City Manager Scott Morelli said LePage’s proposal would likely mean $805,000 in lost revenue.
But what does that mean? Morelli gave a few options:
Raise the mil rate, the property tax calculation per $1,000 of property value, from $19.90 to $22.30, a 12 percent increase. Along with eliminating a homestead exemption for non-seniors, it’d be an increase of $552 for Gardiner’s median homeowner.
Make a 16 percent, across-the-board cut in city government.
Or, make specific cuts. One could be eliminating the city’s entire police department, according to Koenig's report. It could also cut the fire department and other departments.
One councilor suggested the proposal should be a motivator for the city to start looking closer at consolidating certain services with area cities and towns.
As we wrote in our Monday State House notebook, consolidation has become a meme in this budget battle, mostly among Republicans who may not necessarily support – but are defending – the governor’s proposal.
Boots on the ground: The liberal activist group the Maine People's Alliance is mobilizing to oppose LePage's budget proposal. The group, which used its grassroots network to great effect during the 2012 election, plans to fan out across the state, submitting resolutions to municipal select boards and councils that oppose the governor's budget.
In addition, the group will advocate for a "fair tax code," a thus far non-detailed proposal that is gaining traction among Democratic legislative leaders.
The MPA kicks off its launch Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the Hall of Flags.
Well-placed: Former Republican state Rep. Jonathan McKane has been one of the Republicans' leading voices on health care. He's also a staunch opponent of the state's Dirigo Health program.
Last week the governor appointed McKane to the Dirigo Health board of trustees, a move that will likely meet some resistance from Democrats due to McKane's outspoken criticism of the program.
McKane will need to be confirmed by the Legislature.
Finish line? The Legislature's budget-writing committee is expected to vote out the remainder of the governor's $153 million supplemental budget Tuesday.
Then again, the panel was expected to do that on Monday, so it could be another long day of behind-the-scenes negotiating.
Non-political item: From The Onion's Twitter feed (screen cap):
H/T to State House Reporter Mike Shepherd for lending a hand on today's Briefing
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.