Last week, Governor LePage gave his annual State of State Address to legislators and the people of Maine. He is clearly passionate about many challenges this state faces, and I was pleased to hear his call for bipartisan work towards addressing these issues.
Mainers are no strangers to tough times, and we pride ourselves on our strong work ethic and dedication to the success of our future generations. I was pleased to hear the governor talk about putting our children and struggling families first, however my opinion isthat therhetoric does not match reality. Across this state 50,000 Mainers remain unemployed, and we have more families living in poverty now than we did in 2010. Many states are bouncing back from the economic recession, but Maine’s economy is slipping backwards. Maine was the only New England state whose economy shrank in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Over the last two years, his administration has not strengthened the economy or grown Maine’s middle class. To do that we need a fair tax system and a budget that will grow our economy from the middle out. Instead, the governor has proposed a budget that is essentially a $400 million tax increase. This would shift the tax burden to local communities and their taxpayers, and will raise property taxes for most Maine people. The governor's budget would eliminate revenue sharing that municipalities rely on. It would also cut state funding for Maine's Drugs for the Elderly program, and the Homestead Property Tax exemption and Circuit Breaker Program for all Mainers younger than 65.During these tough economic times it is crucial to support businesses and families which will move our economy forward. That means investing in our future, starting with our children.
Schools not only provide stability for children living in poverty, but they are also that ladder to opportunity. Almost half of Maine children receive subsidized school lunches, 11,000 more children received food stamps in 2012 than in 2011, and nearly 20 percent of Maine children are trying to succeed while living in poverty. Studies show that early childhood education is actually an economic booster. We must strengthen our public schools and expand early childhood education, not siphon money away from them to expand charter school laws.
I am glad Governor LePage is passionate about addressing our economy, and education system. I know that legislators, regardless of party, are equally devoted to tackling Maine’s challenges. Our problems are too big for one party or one branch of government to solve alone. That is why, in addition to my Chairing the Judiciary Committee and serving on the Transportation Committee, I am honored to have been chosen to serve on the newly formed Joint Select Committee on the Maine Workforce and Economic Future to help create jobs to move Maine forward. It is a new day in Augusta – and I hope you will join me in participating in the road to Maine’s economic recovery.
State and Local News