On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Election Day was observed and citizens around Maine exercised their civic duty on ballot questions that have been causing tension throughout the state. The Maine state ballot included four statewide questions, including an expansion on Medicaid and opening a casino in York County.
Some controversial topics on the ballot that have been voted on to include the proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility. The majority voted “Yes” on this, with 59 percent voting in favor. For Mainers, this means that approximately 70,000 people will receive health care coverage by expanding Medicaid, also referred to as MaineCare, is a program that provides health coverage to those residents living at or near the line of poverty. Maine is the first state to vote on this through a referendum.
This question has sparked controversy nationwide as Maine is one of 19 states that rejected Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, according to an article by NPR. Just after the vote was approved, arguments erupted as many did not know how this could be implemented. Maine Governor Paul LePage said on Wednesday, Nov. 8 in a statement that his administration would not implement the voter-approved law, as he finds it, “Fiscally irresponsible. Therefore, my administration will not implement Medicaid expansion until is has been fully funded by the Legislature at the levels DHHS has calculated, and I will not support increasing taxes on Maine families, raiding the rainy day fund or reducing services to our elderly or disabled,” according to an article by the Bangor Daily News.
Governor LePage has been known for his strong opinions on this topic in the past. He has previously vetoed five Medicaid expansion bills that have been passed by the state legislature with the excuse that it would destroy the state’s economy. LePage will remain in office until next year when he will reach the end of his term limit.
According to Maine state laws, voter-approved initiatives that require money from the state must wait 45 days to become operable after the legislature convenes, which will fall on Jan. 3, 2018. Following this, the LePage administration will have 90 days to submit the necessary paperwork to the federal government, according to an article by The Hill.
Another big topic on the ballot was the vote to open a slot machine/casino in York County, which was not approved by Maine voters. Those in support of the proposal believed that the casino would bring in nearly $40 million in profits as well as create around 2,000 jobs. These numbers are based off of economic activity, which is part of the reason many Mainers were uneasy with the proposal and voted against it.
The voices of the residents of Maine were heard, and it is questionable to whether or not the governor will allow these proposals to happen.