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Health Fund Pays Dividends

March 4, 2011
Bangor Daily News Editorial

 

A program that returns $7 for every $1 invested, while improving the health of individuals as well as businesses, should be championed. That’s why Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed defunding ofFund for a Healthy Maine, which would essentially eliminate the more than a dozen programs it supports, is so shortsighted.

In his proposed budget for the next two years, the governor would use the money allocated to the health fund to help plug the hole in the state’s general fund budget. Or perhaps he’s using the money to help pay for tax cuts, which will mostly benefit the state’s highest earners.

What makes this even more insidious is that Fund for a Healthy Maine isn’t sustained with taxpayer funds, but rather it is the state’s repository of federal tobacco settlement fund money, money that is, by the terms of the settlement, supposed to be devoted to public health services.

The Fund for a Healthy Maine was set up in 1999 to manage Maine’s share of the $206 billion due to states from tobacco companies as part of a settlement agreement. Maine is slated to receive nearly $60 million in settlement funds next year.

 

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