More LePage Budget Cuts Means More Controversy 

Friday in Augusta lawmakers got a look at another controversial piece to the governor’s 2-year budget. It calls for cutting 18-million dollars from the fund for a Healthy Maine.Hundreds of people crowded into the state house to voice their concern over more proposed budget cuts, cuts the governor defended on Wednesday. “We need to balance a budget. I got a $1.2 billion dollar boogey man and I gotta find the money,” LePage told reporters outside the Blaine House. “By constitution I have to be balanced and so you gotta take every penny you can.”This round of cuts would take a bite out of of the Fund for a Healthy Maine. On Friday lawmakers heard testimony from those who would be affected the most while a spokesperson for the governor said these cuts are designed to get more money flowing into Medicare. “what we’re doing is shifting $18-million from health, wellness, and preventative programs to actual healthcare, to medicaid. we’re getting an additional benefit by doing this because we’re going to get a 2-1 federal match on that money,” LePage spokesperson Adrienne Bennett explains. These cuts include more than $4-million each from the Dirigo Health Program and substance abuse prevention and 4.6 million dollars would be cut from the home visitation program eliminating it entirely. It’s a program that sends counselors to the homes of first time parents including teen mothers to help them with a variety of needs. Marjorie Withers works closely with the home visitor program. “To have a program that literally can follow you from pregnancy to age 5 that is non-judgmental and strength oriented is an incredible gift,” she says.These cuts are not sitting well with those who benefit from the program. Catherine Buntin is the mother of 3 children and participates in the home visitor program. She says she doesn:t know what she would have done without it. When she first heard of these cuts two thoughts went through her mind. “Anger and frustration,” Buntin said. “There are a lot of parents out there who need home visitation in their home.” Officials that work with the program say if the home visitor program goes away it takes with it at least 100 jobs. Lisa Murphy is one who stands to lose her job. “It’s devastating,” she says. “And not so much for us but for the families. To hear their reactions of what’s going to happen next and where are we going to get that support.”LePage spokesperson Adrienne Bennett says it’s about the shared sacrifice the governor believes is necessary to get the state’s fiscal house in order. “It’s a really tough call but we only have finite resources and we think it’s important that parents have access to doctors and hospital based care and that’s what the choice comes down to.”