Hello, I’m David Haggan, the State Representative in District 101, representing Newburgh and Hampden.
This week, I want to talk to you about a very serious issue that needs to be addressed. It’s an issue that highlights the biggest difference between
Legislative Republicans and Democrats.
I believe we should be helping Mainers who are the most in need first. Those in greatest need, are those who cannot take care of themselves.
The people I’m talking about, are Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
They require extra attention, care, and resources. They need our assistance to help them interact and engage in the community, and realize their full potential.
In the rush to dole out taxpayer money, to brand new categories of recipients, the State of Maine is failing its’ most vulnerable citizens.
Citizens who need our help most.
Adults with disabilities, in desperate need of our assistance, have been forced to the back of the line by the Mills’ Administration and Democrats in the Legislature.
Recently, I have been in touch with some of the families facing a crisis.
One such families son, whose name I’ll withhold, was one of my students when he was in middle school. He is autistic, non-verbal, and requires assistance to walk.
When he was in school, he was making progress, receiving physical therapy, had a “job” at the school and began communicating through a text-to-speech device purchased by his Mom.
This progress was a result of having committed school teachers, therapists and an Individual Education Plan (or IEP) with funding attached.
Now that he is no longer in school, he is on a waiting list for MaineCare services. The support he received in school is no longer available.
His mother writes:
“Without funding my Son will regress. There is no maybe about it.
The future is scary without funding. I don’t want to see my son lose skills he has gained.
I don’t want his purpose to fade.
Unfortunately, it comes down to money. He cannot be left alone.
I am a single Mom who has to work to pay the mortgage, electric, water, sewer, phone, car, insurance, food and so on. What do I do? How do I work? Who will watch my Son?”
This is just ONE of many families residing in my district and across Maine who have reached out to me.
Their stories are heartbreaking.
Many families have been destroyed, had to leave Maine, or been forced into poverty, living their lives in quiet desperation.
According to a recent Portland Press Herald Editorial, the wait list has grown from 110 in 2008 to over 1,500 in 2018.
Governor LePage proposed to eliminate the waitlist in his last two budgets, and succeeded in getting a modest reduction, but waitlists continue to increase.
The function of taxpayer-funded public assistance programs should be to provide support to our most vulnerable citizens first, before considering new program and benefits.
Now I ask you, who should receive first priority when it comes to spending taxpayer money?
Is it able-bodied, childless adults, who are able to work, feed themselves and contribute to others less fortunate?
Is it asylum seekers, many of whom entered our country illegally?
Or is it the 1,600 adults with disabilities on wait lists?
I know what nearly all listeners would choose if they spent any time with Maine families on these lists.
Maine is not a wealthy state. Able-bodied, childless adults and asylum seekers from other countries should be considered ONLY after the needs of our most vulnerable, infirm residents are met.
Unfortunately, that is not the same answer produced by the actions of this Governor and the Democrats who overwhelmingly control state government.
It has been said that, “you will know them by what they produce.”
After spending 99.995% of all state revenues and the surplus accumulated under Republicans, Democrats are bragging about how the $125 million they budgeted on healthcare will be matched by $700 million in federal funds to cover 70,000 people.
What about the 1,600 adults with disabilities on the wait list?
Mostly, they will continue to languish on wait lists, with family resources exhausted, jobs lost, emotionally strained to the breaking point.
After Democrats spent all our tax money, they are now looking for more money to support the estimated 350+ asylum seekers who came to Portland because we have more generous welfare benefits.
Asylees continue to arrive every day, following national reports that they have up to a year to apply for asylum and can receive Maine General Assistance benefits in the meantime.
Most asylum claims can take anywhere from 2 to 10 years to process.
Estimates on what this will cost Maine taxpayers run in the millions of dollars, even though there is no money left after the budget spent it all.
Potentially millions of dollars in new taxes, after Maine nursing homes and Maine roads were underfunded and waitlist adults with disabilities were not adequately funded.
Listeners should take note of this fact and let the Governor and Democrats know what responsible priorities look like.
Vulnerable Maine adult citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities need to come first.
There is a desperate need for policy to be re-written, and funds reprioritized, to fully fund services for adults with disabilities. Unlike the recipients of many other programs, those eligible for these services are often unable to work to overcome or change their circumstances.
As a society, we are judged by how we care for our weakest members and at this, the Mills administration is failing miserably.
This has been Representative David Haggan with the Republican Radio Address, thank you for listening.
Rep. David Haggan represents House District 101, Hampden and Newburgh.