AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Governor LePage told a Legislative committee today the state needs to pay its debt to Maine hospitals. Democratic leaders today agreed, and rolled out their own plan to pay the 484 million the state owes to hospitals.
The hospital debt repayment has become issue number one for the Governor, Legislative Republicans and the Maine Republican Party. The Governor wants to borrow the money to pay the state's 185-million dollar share of the hospital debt. Then pay the loan back with yearly income from a new wholesale liquor contract. Democrats today announced their own plan to pay hospitals - make the winner of the new liquor contract pay the state's share up front.
The Democratic plan was unveiled this morning...just a half hour before the hearing began. It means there will apparently be no debate over whether to pay the hospitals this year, but the Legislative Committee will need to decide which approach is better. Democrats say their plan would save money and avoid the need for a loan. Republicans say having the wholesale liquor company pay it would mean less money for the state in the long run.
The company that currently holds the liquor contract...maine Beverage... appeared to support the democrat's plan...and had actually proposed something similar to the Governor a month ago. The two other companies that say they want to bid support the Governor's proposal. Democrats made a change today when they announced the plan.