This morning the Maine Senate voted 35-0 to overturn Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1003 a “Resolve, To Assist Maine Schools To Obtain Federal Funds for Medically Necessary Services.” Yesterday the House voted to override the veto with a 124 to 16 vote.
LePage has used his veto power 17 times since taking office, but this is the first time one of his vetoes has been overturned.
LD 1003 helps direct federal funds to local schools to help pay for medical services for students, especially for students enrolled in special education programs. LePage stated in his veto letter that he felt that LD 1003 would distract the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) from their current duties:
As members of the Legislature know, the Department of Health and Human Services is under constant pressure trying to fix the large number of problems found in the MaineCare benefit program. This Resolve would simply be a distraction from their other important duties. I have strong objections to the Legislature directing efforts of the Executive branch without providing funding for that purpose, especially when my departments are already working tirelessly on these issues. Further, Maine law already requires stakeholder input on such MaineCare changes, making this Resolve unnecessary.
DHHS has come under scrutiny for a computer error that allowed 19,000 individuals to continue to collect MaineCare benefits when they were ineligible. The state may now have to pay large fines to the federal government. The news broke after a long battle over the DHHS budget, where many lawmakers said that the numbers were wonky. The Maine Democrats have accused DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew of a cover up and have asked the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability to investigate.