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Enough is Enough: Dilly-dallying by Legislature has delayed the state budget

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

I hope Mainers who are paying the freight that allows the State of Maine to operate read, reflected on and absorbed last week’s article by Governor Paul R. LePage concerning Maine’s biennial budget. (“As usual, budget comes down to crunch time,” TCT, p. 3, June 15, 2017)

It is very illuminating and lays out the major problem that keeps Maine from thriving—our legislature! If you missed it, go online, pull it up and read it. It is a very worthwhile read.

Before going on, stop and think of how you arrive at and set your family household budget. Many of you follow the proven, time-tested model used in successful business practices. You take your total earnings, review your expenses and maybe put aside a small amount that will be used in emergencies or unexpected costs down the road. If you find yourself in the “plus” column, great. If you spend more than you take in, which lands you in the “minus” column, then you must decide where to cut to maintain your daily living standards.

Back in January, the Governor, who had a long career in the business sector, promptly submitted a balanced state budget, which set a spending limit for each government department. It was up to those individuals running these departments to fund their programs within the parameters of the money they were allotted.

But in a Legislature filled with community organizers, non-profit executives and employees, teachers, retired government workers and state representatives and senators who owe their seats to the aforementioned groups, trying to balance and cut the state budget is like shoveling sand against the tide.

Our brilliant legislators have their own way of crafting a state budget. To the chagrin of the Maine taxpayers, they hear the crying and wailing from those who refuse to help themselves. Then, using perimeters designed to ensure the “gimme” whiners are content, they craft a budget around the alleged needs of these groups as opposed to what taxpayers can afford.

The dilly-dallying by our Maine State Legislature, which delaying working for months on the budget submitted by the Governor in January, could now lead to a state shutdown. I guess the Legislature wanted to make sure that their pet special interest allies had been taken care of and were content before addressing the Governor’s budget.

In cities and towns, budgets have been cobbled together and passed. In Lewiston, the budget requires the city council to meet twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) over a two-month period to fashion and pass a city budget before the end of May.

At this point we have passed a budget for the City of Lewiston, but finalization will depend on the passage of Maine’s state budget. We need to know how much revenue we will get from the state to realize where we as a city fiscally stand.

I must also note that while crafting a budget, time is spent by councilors addressing other city business.

Lastly, like the Governor, I do not believe in term limits by government fiat. Term limits are the responsibility of the individual voters. If your senator or representative is not doing the job you sent them to Augusta to do, then you can take action—vote them out of office. Your vote should be based on research of the individual, not by the commercials run on TV and radio.

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