Gov. LePage’s press event with a squeaking pig toy and a Christmas tree with ornaments featuring Democratic and Republican legislators was meant to deliver the message that the budget passed by the Maine Legislature was filled with pork.
“Pork,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. LePage also called the Legislature “corrupt.”
However, if you take a look at the line-item vetoes, it’s hard to argue that the vetoed funds are going to useless projects as some kind of payoff. Instead, they reflect particular policy priorities.
I encourage you to look at the entire set of line-item vetoes. They can be seen at this link, where you can see where budget items have been crossed out, with the amount LePage wants to be funded written in.
Reporters have started classifying the vetoes and dollar amounts, which largely involve K-12 education and Health Care, health care, forestry, job training, Meals on Wheels and work done by the Attorney General’s Office.
About half of the $60 million in vetoes is for public schools.
But one category of vetoes is especially striking.
The governor has made a political cottage industry out of claims of fraud in entitlement programs.
Yet one of his line-item vetoes strikes a bit over $250,000 for the Attorney General’s office to investigate Medicaid fraud. It’s on what’s listed as p. 107 on the pdf of line-item vetoes and can be seen below.
Moreover, these funds are needed as a state match for a grant.The way these arrangements in grants generally work, if the state doesn’t deliver the match, the other funds are not available.
By the way, Governing magazine notes that the typical return on investment for Medicaid fraud efforts is between six and eight to one.
Similarly, LePage vetoed about $217,000 in funding for the Attorney General’s office’s involvement in “multistate and in-state civil fraud cases.” (See below; it can also be found on p.108 of the pdf.)
Can anyone reasonably say these are pork?