Archive for December 29th, 2012

Weekly Address of President Obama: Congress Must Protect the Middle Class from Income Tax Hike

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Hello Everybody. For the past couple months, I’ve been working with people in both parties – with the help of business leaders and ordinary Americans – to come together around a plan to grow the economy and shrink our deficits.

It’s a balanced plan – one that would protect the middle class, cut spending in a responsible way, and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more. And I’ll keep working with anybody who’s serious about getting a comprehensive plan like this done – because it’s the right thing to do for our economic growth.

But we’re now at the point where, in just a couple days, the law says that every American’s tax rates are going up. Every American’s paycheck will get a lot smaller. And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy. It would hurt middle-class families, and it would hurt the businesses that depend on your spending.

And Congress can prevent it from happening, if they act now. Leaders in Congress are working on a way to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I believe we may be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time.

But if an agreement isn’t reached in time, then I’ll urge the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on a basic package that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends vital unemployment insurance for Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future progress on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities – as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote. If they still want to vote no, and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that’s their prerogative – but they should let everyone vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work.

We just can’t afford a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. The economy is growing, but keeping it that way means that the folks you sent to Washington have to do their jobs. The housing market is healing, but that could stall if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, but already, families and businesses are starting to hold back because of the dysfunction they see in Washington.

You meet your deadlines and your responsibilities every day. The folks you sent here to serve should do the same. We cannot let Washington politics get in the way of America’s progress. We’ve got to do what it takes to protect the middle class, grow this economy, and move our country forward.

Thanks, everybody.

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Weekly Democratic Address of Rep. Megan Rochelo (Biddeford): Examining the Governor’s Spending Cuts

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

megan rocheloGood morning, I’m Democratic State Representative Megan Rochelo from Biddeford.

While most of us are celebrating the holiday season this week, lawmakers are gearing up for a new legislative session in Augusta.

This week, we received a much-anticipated Executive Order from Governor Paul LePage to cut state spending to meet a $35.5 million shortfall in revenues collected by the state.

The governor is required by law to issue the order, called a curtailment, when the state’s revenues are lower than expected.

So, you may be wondering why we are facing a shortfall in revenue.

The revenue shortfall is due to a lagging state economy. While many states across the country have begun to emerge from the recession, Maine is one of only three where are revenues are below projections.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Maine is the only state in New England where the economy shrunk last year.

The truth is Maine’s economy needs a boost. We need to put more people back to work in the jobs we have now, so they have more money in their pockets to shop locally and in turn help the whole community and the state. And, we need an action plan to grow Maine’s economy long term.

We won’t cut our way to prosperity. It’s time for Maine to invest in our state. We must put our state back on track.

Lawmakers will have to make choices on how we balance the budget. As a state we need to have an important conversation about our priorities.

Governor LePage gave us a starting point this week with his spending cuts. While Democrats don’t agree with all of LePage’s cuts to education, public health and safety programs, we know we have to work together with our Republican colleagues to stabilize our budget, make our government work better for you, and ensure that we invest in our future.

And our work has only just begun. We will have to close a shortfall in our Health and Human Services budget and we have significant shortfall projected in our next budget partly due to unfunded tax cuts that largely benefit the rich.

The cuts being proposed are only the tip of the iceberg.

We have to ask ourselves if cutting K-12 and higher education makes sense when we should be making sure our children and our workforce are prepared for the future. We face a serious skills gap that can’t be solved without strong schools and training programs that work.

Is now the time to cut mental health and public safety budgets when we have seen one tragedy after another involving violence and individuals suffering from mental illness?

Shouldn’t we be looking at how these programs can work better to make us safer and better serve the people of Maine?

Should student loans and adoption services be on the chopping block? Shouldn’t we be creating more opportunity for Maine people, not less?

As lawmakers it’s our job to make sure we are very thorough and open minded– not driven by ideology.

Now more than ever Maine people need us to put partisan politics aside and get to work on reasonable and fair solutions that will get our economy moving again.

Lawmakers are taking immediate action to convene the Appropriations committee ahead of schedule to review the spending cuts and begin that important conversation about our priorities. I’m honored to be part of that committee to serve the people of Maine. We will need your guidance in the tough months ahead.

Thank you for listening. I’m Rep. Megan Rochelo from Biddeford. Have a safe and happy New Year.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: New Year Message on Safety

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Audio link here.

lepage officeHello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

The number of motor vehicle crashes, deaths, and related injuries occurring on our roadways continue to have a devastating toll on our citizens and visitors to our great State.

As of this past week, 163 people have died on Maine roads during 2012 and that is too many deaths, too many relatives, too many friends and too many Maine citizens. The safest driving occurs when drivers direct full attention to the road and their surroundings.

Most alarming is the number of young drivers killed as a result of distracted driving. Sadly, 14 teens have died on Maine roads during the past year. Twenty-seven fatalities involved 20 to 24 year-olds.

Unfortunately, too high of a percentage of all crashes are due to driver error. Last year, roughly 10 percent of vehicle fatalities were a result of distracted driving.

Law enforcement is serious about cracking down on distracted driving and texting while behind the wheel.

While no state bans cell phone use for all drivers, many prohibit use by young drivers. Thirty-two states, including Maine, ban cell phone use by novice drivers and texting while driving is illegal for all motorists in Maine.

I would also like to take a moment to talk about the importance of buckling up. Seatbelts save lives.

Each year, approximately 42,000 Americans die in traffic crashes and another three million are injured. Many of these deaths and injuries are preventable if the victims had been wearing safety belts.

Fifty percent of young drivers in Maine who die in motor vehicle crashes did not buckle up.

It is important to protect our citizens. That is why I support the effort of the Maine State Police in stepping up enforcement of seatbelt violations, especially for young drivers.

In addition to this effort, law enforcement across our State will be looking to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Federal money is helping pay for the ‘Drive Sober Maine!’ campaign that started in December and will continue into the New Year.

Fifty-two Maine highway agencies, from Fort Fairfield to Kittery will work overtime to patrol at places and times where drunk driving is most common.

Alcohol related traffic deaths doubled in the first six months of 2012 with 32 OUI deaths compared to 15 deaths during the same period in 2011.

Whether it is drinking and driving or distracted driving – the consequences of either are too great. Lives are on the line and no life is worth losing.

As we head into 2013, it is my sincere wish that all Mainers enjoy the journey ahead of them.

Do not drink and drive and think twice about texting when behind the wheel. A safe driver is a responsible driver.

Ann and I would like to wish everyone a very safe and prosperous New Year.

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