April 14, 2012

LePage vetoes parts of bipartisan budget

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage today issued a line-item veto of parts of the supplemental budget that was given final approval by lawmakers on Friday.

In his veto letter, LePage told lawmakers they did not make enough structural changes in General Assistance to gain his support.

"We need a profile in courage in Augusta," he wrote. "We must do what is right, without regards to the next election. It is why we all took that solemn oath and that is why I ask each and every one of you for your support of these vetoes."

LePage struck out $4.3 million in General Assistance funding for cities and towns; an additional $450,000 in the program; and $1.4 million that was designed to hire seven limited-period positions for the program.

Also, he struck $3.1 million from the budget that he says is not consistent with federal law. His original budget called for spending $10 million for forensic patients at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, but lawmakers reduced the amount.

"The way Maine funds mental health treatment for prisoners and those found not criminally responsible likely violates federal law," he wrote. "That risk must and can be avoided."

Lawmakers will now have to decide whether override or sustain the vetoes. Consideration of the vetoes could happen as soon as next week.

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