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This week’s edition!

Efficient and effective government requires accountability and transparency

Governor Paul R. LePage

Governor Paul R. LePage

I intend to let Mainers know what is going on in Augusta. They deserve to know how their elected officials are voting on important issues. Unfortunately, once these politicians get to Augusta, they are all too eager to hide their business from the Maine people.

They soon forget why they were elected and what they promised to do for their constituents. I was elected by hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of Maine. As your Governor, I don’t make decisions based on one person, one lobbyist, one community or one county, but rather what’s in the best interest of all 1.3 million Mainers.

I am all for accountability and transparency in government, and I have made that clear throughout my tenure as Governor. But the Legislature is not transparent.

For instance, in the past five years the Legislature has tried to strengthen the Freedom of Access Act for other branches of government—but it exempts itself from the FOAA law.

When these politicians exclude themselves from FOAA, they are hiding their business from the media and the Maine people.

They also make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the public to see their voting records. Most Mainers would have a very hard time trying to determine how their legislator voted on an issue.

Another example involves the disclosure of salary and compensation for public officials and state employees. The Executive and Judicial Branches, as well as the rest of state government, lists salaries and compensation for every employee for the public to see.

But the Legislature hides its salary and compensation information from the Maine people. They don’t want you to know how much of your money they are using to pay themselves.

Sadly, the Legislature has had the opportunity to be completely transparent with the Maine people, but they have refused.

I put up a bill last year to allow Maine Public Broadcast Network to televise legislative sessions of both the House and the Senate. MPBN would also broadcast meetings of the powerful Appropriations Committee, which decides how all the money in the budget will be spent. The Appropriations Committee killed the bill. They don’t want Maine taxpayers to know what they are doing with your hard-earned money. They prefer to craft the budget in secretive, back-room deals—just like they did last year.

Allowing MPBN to broadcast Legislative sessions would improve transparency in Augusta and shine a light on what politicians are doing with your money. They would not be able to hide their votes. They would not be able to say one thing to Mainers and another thing in the privacy of the State House.

It’s an election year, and in just a few short months you’re sure to hear from your legislators all about the good they have done in Augusta. Don’t take their word for it. Let’s make the Legislature transparent so you can get a chance to see for yourselves what your elected officials are really doing in Augusta.

 

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