AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - On a party line vote, democrats today gave final passage to paying the state's debt to Maine hospitals with expanding Medicaid to about 70,000 more people. The Governor almost immediately issued a public veto message.
The final votes were cast in the Senate Thursday morning, but not until one more long debate. Democrats saying expanding Medicaid or Maine Care health insurance with the federal government paying the full cost for three years is the right thing to do. Republicans saying nobody knows how much it would really cost the state in future years.
No minds were changed by the debate. And when it was time for the vote, it was strictly party line.
The vote was 20 to 15 in favor. Then minutes later, in a ceremony that may not have happened before, the Governor celebrated with Republicans as he issued a veto.
He said "democrat leadership has spent the past week forcing this bill through the Legislative process over the objections of republicans and democrats alike. this unadulterated partisanship tied two issues together in a quest to force welfare expansion on Maine people."
The Governor said he was sending in a new bill to pay the hospitals. But no sooner was the table cleared away than Democrats took over.
Justin Alfond said "we're here to celebrate a historic achievement."
Rep. Mark Eves swung back saying "Governor LePage has failed to pay his bills. In a divided government you can't demand all or nothing and we urge republicans not to follow him because you will only fail the people of Maine."
The Legislature will vote on the veto next week, but no ones expects it to be overturned, leaving the question, what happens next?