News

  • 08 May 2013 10:23 AM | Deleted user

    Governor Commends State and Local Efforts to Assist Victims of Lewiston Fires

    AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today praised the outpouring of support for Lewiston residents displaced recently by three major fires.

    “My sincerest sympathies go out to those who have lost their homes,” said Governor LePage. “Although no lives were lost, these fires have affected hundreds of people. The immediate response from state, local and county agencies, as well as non-profit organizations and private donors, showcases the best of Maine. We take care of our own in times of tragedy.”

    The Governor commended L.L. Bean for providing a $50,000 corporate gift to the Lewiston Fire Relief Fund. The United Way of Androscoggin County will administer the Fire Relief Fund, which has been bolstered by an anonymous donor who has promised to match cash donations up to $10,000 by Friday.

    In-kind donations have been so plentiful that they are no longer needed. Donations of cash are being encouraged. Cash donations made through the United Way will support the efforts of all the voluntary agencies involved in the response. To donate, visit www.volunteermaine.org.

    Governor LePage also highlighted the tremendous effort by a coalition of state, local and county agencies to provide support to those who lost their homes.

    • DHHS has convened MaineHousing, the Lewiston Housing Authority and HUD to seek housing options for displaced families and tenants.
    • A Housing Fair is being held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the DHHS office in Lewiston.
    • Androscoggin EMA, which coordinates emergency management for both Lewiston-Auburn and the county, has been working with the General Assistance offices in both cities to arrange benefits and residences for the displaced families. A strong coalition of agencies, including the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and the
    • United Way, is working with Androscoggin EMA. Catholic Charities is working with displaced refugee families to replace vital documents that were lost.
    • Efforts are under way to identify warehouse space to house the in-kind donations already received, and a volunteer agency will determine a plan to distribute the goods. This effort is the first implementation of a plan that has been worked on for at least two years among voluntary agencies and the EMA community to handle disaster donations.

    “The overwhelming response to these disasters is an example of how existing resources can come together rapidly to respond to a local emergency,” said Governor LePage. “Everyone involved at the state, local and county level is working hard to help the families that have lost their homes. I have spoken to officials in Lewiston and pledged to them my assistance in getting them whatever help they need.”

  • 07 May 2013 2:54 PM | Deleted user

    Governor’s Statement on Senate Passage of Marketplace Fairness Act

    AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage released Tuesday this statement following Senate passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act:


    “Maine’s economy is in transition. Although we still want to attract large manufacturers, we also need to recognize that our economy is increasingly reliant on small businesses and start-ups. That includes a healthy concentration of retail businesses. They are the backbone of our economy and our communities. That is why I believe this piece of legislation has particular merit for the people of Maine.

    There must be a level playing field and the rules need to be fair and applied equitably to all retailers. Unfortunately, a damaging inequity exists in the retail marketplace because some online retailers are not required to collect Maine sales tax, but Maine retailers are. Businesses must be able to compete on equal terms.

    The Marketplace Fairness Act does not raise taxes. It simply provides for the collection of sales tax already due. I have pledged to lower Maine income taxes and stop wasteful government spending. One powerful tool in achieving these goals would be to have the ability to collect taxes that are due.

    I want to thank Senator Susan Collins for her leadership on this legislation, and I urge Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud to support it as it moves forward to the House.”

  • 07 May 2013 10:15 AM | Deleted user

    Media Advisory: Governor LePage to Visit Lewiston to Tour Fire Damage

    AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage will travel Tuesday to Lewiston to tour fire damage to multiple buildings that has left nearly 200 people homeless in the Twin Cities. Three separate fires have occurred in the city’s downtown district in a week. Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald will accompany Governor LePage at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday at City Hall before walking downtown.

    “I am committed to working with city officials and the people of Lewiston to lessen the burden of those who have been affected by these tragic events.

    I commend the many firefighters and first responders who risked their lives to help get folks to safety. Miraculously, these fires did not take lives, and we are grateful for that,” he said.

    “Growing up on the streets of Lewiston, I am very familiar with the buildings burned. The local effort of restaurants, retailers, community members, charities and city and state government reflects the best in Maine people. The support has been heart-warming and shows the generosity of Mainers helping to rebuild lives and the city.”

    The Office of the Governor has been in contact with Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald to offer support. People displaced by the recent fires can attend a housing fair this Wednesday, May 8, from 1-5 p.m. at DHHS’s Lewiston office, 200 Main Street. Landlords and property managers with vacancies are asked to attend and connect with individuals and families who lost their homes. MaineHousing, Maine Department of Health and Human Services and other support agencies is hosting the fair.

    The most recent fire that damaged at least three apartment buildings occurred Monday morning on Bartlett Street in downtown Lewiston. It is the third major fire in a week to hit Lewiston’s downtown area. The first fire happened on Monday, April 29, destroying three buildings on Blake, Pine and Bates streets. On Friday, another fire damaged four buildings on Bartlett and Pierce streets. Two twelve-year-old boys have been charged with arson in connection to at least two of the fires.

    Governor LePage regrets not being able to be in Lewiston today. The Governor was in Fort Fairfield attending former Governor Reed’s interment.

    For those who would like to help those displaced by the fires, monetary donations are being collected through the United Valley Red Cross. Anyone interested in donating may call the below number:

  • 02 May 2013 10:25 AM | Deleted user

    Media Advisory: 2013 Governor’s Awards for Business Excellence

    AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development invite you to help recognize seven Maine companies honored as this year’s recipients of the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence. The announcement will take place at the State House at 10:00 a.m. Friday, May 3.

    “Each of the recipients has demonstrated a high level of commitment to their community and employees, and to manufacturing and service excellence,” said Governor LePage. “These companies join the more than 110 other Maine companies who have received this distinguished award since 1991.”

    WHEN: Friday, May 3

    WHERE: State House, Hall of Flags, Augusta

  • 02 May 2013 10:24 AM | Deleted user

    Vannoy Likely to Continue as Maine Public Utilities Commissioner with Unanimous Vote from Committee

    AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage congratulated Mark Vannoy, P.E. of Waldoboro as the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee unanimously approved him on Wednesday to continue as Commissioner of the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). Vannoy has completed the term of Vendean Vafiades, who resigned from her position in 2012. The Senate must approve Vannoy to serve a full term which would be six years.

    Vannoy was previously employed as an Associate Vice President of Wright-Pierce in the Civil and Infrastructure Engineering Practice Group. His experience includes management of a wide variety of projects, from industrial food and beverage plants to municipal utilities. He served on Active Duty in the United States Navy from 1993 to 1999 and remains a Commander in the Navy Reserve. An active member of his community, he has recently served as Chair of the Waldoboro Energy Committee.

    Vannoy received his B.S. in Ocean Engineering from the United States Naval Academy and subsequently completed Navy Nuclear Power Training in Orlando, Florida. He earned an M.Eng. in Civil Engineering from Cornell University.

    The MPUC regulates electric, natural gas, telecommunications and water utilities to ensure that Maine consumers enjoy safe, adequate and reliable services at rates that are just and reasonable for both consumers and utilities. The Commission oversees emerging competitive markets for some of these services. The Commission also regulates water taxis and ferries in Casco Bay, and promotes safe digging through the Dig Safe underground utility damage prevention program

  • 01 May 2013 9:58 AM | Deleted user
     

    Sequestration Forces Changes to Maine’s Extended Unemployment Compensation Program

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 30, 2013

    Contact: Julie Rabinowitz,207-621-5009

    Beneficiaries in Tier 3 will see a benefit reduction of eight weeks

    AUGUSTAundefinedFederally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program unemployment benefits are subject to reduction under the federal government’s budget sequester. Beneficiaries in the last weeks of EUC eligibility will be affected by the mandatory cuts, ending benefits about eight weeks early for those claimants in Tier 3.

    The U.S. Department of Labor has mandated that benefit cuts be implemented no later than June 30, 2013, in a manner that achieves an overall savings of 10.7 percent of benefits for federal fiscal year 2013, which ends September 30, 2013. The U.S. Department of Labor mandated specific ways for states to achieve the savings, letting states choose from a limited set of options.

    Under the option Maine has chosen to implement, EUC Tier 3 benefit duration will be reduced by eight weeks, leaving one week of benefit eligibility in Tier 3. The reduction is effective the week of May 12, and about 1,100 of the 5,800 individuals currently collecting EUC benefits will not be eligible for additional benefits beginning that week. Thereafter, the number of beneficiaries exhausting benefits each week will fall back to numbers similar to the pre-sequestration weekly figures of about 150 a week.

    Although EUC beneficiaries are required to attend job-search workshops and to be continuously looking for, able and available to work, Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette announced the launch of intensive services to support people who will be losing benefits earlier than they might have anticipated.

    “In order to assist EUC beneficiaries to transition into jobs, the Maine Department of Labor, through its CareerCenter network and other service providers, has implemented an increased and focused array of CareerCenter job-search services and training to the affected participants,” Paquette said.

    “The timing of the sequester reduction puts about 20 percent of current EUC beneficiaries in need of immediate employment at the peak of the summer hiring season. We will do our best to connect everyone on unemployment, no matter how many weeks they’ve collected, with good jobs,” the Commissioner said.

    The number of EUC tiers a state operates under the EUC program is determined by a three-month average of a state’s unemployment rate. As the unemployment rate decreases, the number of weeks of benefits a state may provide falls. When Maine’s three-month average falls below 7 percent, the availability of Tier 3 benefits will end. Maine’s unemployment rate in March was 7.1 percent.

    The total number of weeks a person claiming unemployment benefits in Maine can file for is 63 weeks. The state’s traditional unemployment system provides the initial 26 weeks of benefits, paid via the Unemployment Trust Fund. Those weeks are not affected by sequestration. EUC Tiers 1 and 2 provide up to 14 weeks of benefits each. Tier 3 provides up to nine weeks of benefits.

    Both EUC benefits and the cost of their administration are federally funded. Congress authorized the continuation of the EUC program in the last-minute tax deal at the end of 2012 after leading many to believe that it would not be extended.

    In January, in light of the federal government’s actions on the EUC extension and delay of sequestration, Commissioner Paquette sent a letter to all EUC beneficiaries urging them to take advantage of job-search services and training programs due to the uncertainty surrounding the program.

    The U.S. Department of Labor offered several sequestration options to states after its initial plan proved unworkable for the vast majority of states. In reviewing these options, the Maine Department of Labor considered such factors as the number of Mainers receiving EUC benefits, the timing of the reductions, the number of available jobs on the Maine Job Bank and estimates of open jobs statewide, the CareerCenters’ capacity to assist EUC beneficiaries in May and June into training and new jobs, the cost to implement, and the requirements of the computer system used to manage the payment system.

    More information on the EUC program in Maine is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment/extended_unemployment.shtml.

    Data on Maine’s 26-week state-funded unemployment benefits can be found here http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ui.html. The charts and tables do not include EUC data.

  • 29 Apr 2013 8:10 PM | Deleted user

    Governor Calls on Leadership to Vote on Hospital Bill

    AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage called on legislative leadership today to allow a vote on his plan to pay nearly $500 million in welfare debt the state owes Maine’s hospitals.

    “Republicans and many good Democrats have been ready for months to pay the hospitals, and the Maine people know it is the right thing to do,” said Governor LePage. “I’m calling on Democratic leadership to let legislators take a simple up-or-down vote on my plan.”

  • 27 Apr 2013 12:07 PM | Deleted user
    Governor LePage Focused on Balancing State Budget with Lower than Expected Revenues

    RFC Committee predicts $69M shortfall for upcoming two-year budget

    AUGUSTA – The State of Maine’s Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) met Friday to discuss its April report, which will be released formally next week. The report forecast decreased revenues including a sharp decline in sales and corporate income taxes totaling more than $100 million in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

    “When sales and corporate taxes are down by this much it is a clear sign that Maine businesses are struggling,” Governor Paul R. LePage said. “Uncertainty in the national economy is compounding a growing lack of confidence among business owners, inhibiting their ability to expand and hire people.”

    Based on the revised forecast, state expenditures are expected to exceed anticipated income and other available funds during the upcoming two years by approximately $60 million. While sales and corporate taxes fell short by $102 million, estate and real estate taxes are expected to provide modest increases over prior forecast levels. Most notably, individual income taxes are predicted to increase by nearly $29 million over the biennium and more than $44 million in FY2016/FY2017.

    “Reducing the tax burden on Mainers was a good, meaningful policy decision in 2011 and we are seeing an uptick in income taxes as a result. Policies that reduce state spending, remove red tape, and allow businesses to invest and create jobs are what we need to move Maine’s economy forward,” Governor LePage said.

    The Revenue Forecasting Committee will formally submit its report next week, however, Governor Paul R. LePage has already taken swift action to address the anticipated shortfall, including meeting with all Cabinet members to discuss the issue. A change package proposal that reflects the RFC’s forecast is being prepared, and Governor LePage has reached out to all commissioners for input on spending reductions to include in the plan.

    “While disappointing, the RFC’s forecast for the next two biennia is not unexpected,” said H. Sawin Millett, Jr., Commissioner of Department of Administrative and Financial Services. DAFS has already begun work on a change package for Governor LePage’s biennial budget proposal and will incorporate the data from the forecast into that package. The state constitution requires a balanced budget, and it is essential that our ongoing expenses match our incoming revenues.”

    “During that time, we will also communicate with the members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee about the impact of the forecast on the governor’s budget proposal. As the RFC forecast indicates, these diminished revenues are not a temporary problem. We must identify long-term savings for the Legislature to implement,” Commissioner Millett continued.

    The RFC consists of the State Budget Officer, the Associate Commissioner for Tax Policy, the State Economist, and an economist on the faculty of the University of Maine System selected by the chancellor, the Director of the Office of Fiscal and Program Review and another member of the Legislature's nonpartisan staff familiar with revenue estimating issues appointed by the Legislative Council. The RFC is required by statute to meet four times a year.

    The revenue forecast for the next four years is the result of a combination of issues. “The economy has not grown as fast as anticipated. Maine families are dealing with an increase in the federal payroll tax, uncertainty about the debt ceiling and high energy costs,” said Dr. Michael Allen, Associate Commissioner for Tax Policy. “This uncertainty on the federal level is causing businesses and consumers alike to be more cautious about how they spend their money."

  • 27 Apr 2013 12:06 PM | Deleted user

    Democrats Renege on Paying Hospitals

    AUGUSTA – Almost four months have passed since Governor Paul R. LePage introduced a plan to pay nearly $500 million to Maine’s hospitals, but the Legislature has yet to take a vote on the bill.

    Democratic leadership now wants to tie paying the half-a-billion-dollar hospital debt created from the last welfare expansion to a new expansion of welfare.

    “Maine expanded welfare 10 years ago, and we still haven’t paid that debt,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Mainers know that hospitals provide good jobs and are vital to the local economy. They know that paying our bills is the right thing to do. So why are Democrats still refusing to pay the hospitals?”

    Common-sense legislators on both sides of the aisle agree that we need to pay the hospitals. But Democratic leadership is refusing to let them vote on it.

    “Democratic leadership has committed to the Maine people that they want pay to the hospitals. What’s the hold up?” Governor LePage said. “Let’s put each legislator on the record with a clean vote on the hospital bill. Do they want to pay the hospitals or not?”

  • 25 Apr 2013 2:48 PM | Deleted user

    Champions for Health Care Basketball Tournament Taking Place

    To benefit children with developmental disabilities

    Farmington ¾

    The 7th Annual Champions for Health Care Basketball Tournament will take place Friday, May 3 through Sunday, May 5 at the University of Maine at Farmington ’s Dearborn Gym located on High Street. Franklin Community Health Network (FCHN) is organizing the fundraising event.

    The beneficiary will be Franklin Health Child & Adolescent Developmental Pediatrics, a medical practice that specializes in children with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, anxiety, and difficulties with learning and school performance.

    High caliber men’s teams from throughout Maine are slated to participate. Tournament games will be held Friday evening from 5:30–7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday will additionally feature a coed exhibition game at noon between FCHN and Walmart employees. Championship games will take place on Sunday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

    A silent auction will take place during the tournament. Included among the items are a portable basketball system and two highly sought after box seats to the Red Sox home game against Detroit on September 4 (seat location is RF Box 92 Row HH seats 3 & 4).

    Concessions including sandwiches, popcorn, home baked goods, and beverages will be available.

    This is an opportunity for basketball enthusiasts to enjoy affordable family fun, while helping to raise money and awareness for area children with developmental disabilities,” said Jill Gray , community relations manager.

    Sponsors to date include: Ranor Mechanical, Hebert Construction, Kyes Insurance, Ernest Stables, Androscoggin Bank, United Insurance, Hight Chevrolet, and the Cullenberg Law Office. Sponsorship opportunities are still available for any business or individual that is interested in participating. In addition, donations of goods and services for the silent auction are also being sought.

    Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children, and those under 5 are free.

    For information on games and sponsorship opportunities, as well as donations to the silent action should contact Gray at 779-2555.

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