Paul LePage’s message to Maine family caregivers this week was clear: you’re on your own. In an AARP interview released this week, Paul LePage responded to a question about paid family medical leave by saying that unpaid family caregivers don’t deserve support, saying taking care of an ailing family member is “not a burden”:
“I took care of my mother and my father. I took care of my mother-in-law, my father-in-law. It’s not the government’s role, it’s the family’s role. ... It’s not a burden when you’re taking care of a loved one. At least I don’t think so. I’m not a big fan of paid family leave because it’s totally abused.”
LePage’s dismissal of the work required of unpaid family caregivers is consistent with his record as governor. During his time in the Blaine House, LePage vetoed or refused to sign multiple bills to increase the reimbursement rate for direct care workers, and frequently opposed bipartisan legislation to support unpaid family caregivers.
Governor Mills answered the same question by stating her openness to a family medical leave program in Maine, and touted her record of providing $2,000 respite grants to family caregivers. Read more here on how LePage failed older Mainers, and Governor Mills has turned a new page.
“Paul LePage’s dismissal of the struggles that Maine’s family caregivers are facing is absolutely shameful,” said Drew Gattine, Chair of the Maine Democratic Party. “Governor Mills understands that they need and deserve our support. We can’t go back to a governor who cares so little about helping Mainers deal with the problems they’re facing.”
For good measure, in LePage’s AARP interview, he went on to blatantly lie about Governor Mills’ record, accusing her of putting in place a “recycling tax.” LePage is referring to a bill, cosponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Bennett (R-Oxford), which shifts the burden of disposing packaging materials away from Maine communities and onto the companies that create the materials. The program has not even been implemented yet, and it is false to describe the legislation as a new tax. Since Governor Mills took office, she has not raised a single tax on Maine people, unlike LePage, who saw sales and property taxes go up during his time in office.