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Good afternoon. Thank you, Rick, for inviting me to speak here today.

I am glad that we were able to fund revenue sharing for our local communities.

When the snow is flying and folks are counting on the plows to leave the town garage and clear the way so we can get to work, to school, or to the doctors’ offices, politics doesn’t seem very important.

In my community around Presque Isle, our town managers do a great job at managing local government and ensuring the efficient delivery of services to the people. It’s tempting to look at this recent vote as a win for bipartisanship or as a disaster averted. But it’s important to warn all those who are concerned about local services that the issue of revenue sharing will likely come up again.

There is an elephant in the room and until we have the political courage to address it, our towns, our schools, our roads, our natural resources management agencies, and countless other important state priorities, will be under siege.

I’m talking about runaway welfare spending. I’m talking specifically about our Medicaid system here in Maine.

Medicaid has doubled as a share of the state budget since 1998 and now consumes a quarter of all state spending. It’s estimated to consume 40 percent of the state budget in 10 years from now.

That is unsustainable. We must have the financial flexibility to respond to the needs of our towns and our cities. We must keep our existing promises before we make new ones.

That is why I encourage every local leader to speak out in opposition to a new record expansion of our Medicaid program.

State government cannot be all things to all people. There is a finite amount of state revenue out there.

That said, I am on your side in this battle, and I and the House Republican caucus will continue to support essential government services over welfare expansion.