Archive for January 5th, 2013

Weekly Address of Senator Dawn Hill (York): It Is Critical to Set Tone of Cooperation, Fairness to Navigate Future Challenges

Posted on January 5, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

dawn hillAt the start of each new year, we are often more reflective—acknowledging that the welcoming of a new year is an opportunity—a time full of possibility, things that have never been—but can be. Just as in our personal lives, we in the legislature too, can learn from our past, and grow from our experiences.

Good Morning, this is State Senator Dawn Hill of York.

Earlier this week, we witnessed Congress conclude months of unyielding partisan gridlock. We shook our heads in frustration at the inability of some members of Congress to set aside their extreme ideology at the expense of the public good.

Here in Maine we are different. We have a strong history of collaboration—working across party lines. And a track record of getting things done.As the Senate chair of the Appropriations Committee, our state’s budget writing committee, I will be working first-hand on the tough challenges before us. It is critical to set a tone of cooperation and fairness as we prepare to navigate the tough challenges before us.

This week lawmakers began to look closely at a package of $35.5 million dollars in spending cuts to our state’s budget that the Governor has proposed, including taking away $12.6 million dollars from our schools and $13.4 million dollars from our health services. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We will also need to address a $100 million dollar shortfall in the Department of Health and Human Services; and looking ahead we will have to write a new two-year budget for the State of Maine.

We have no choice but to work together. The stakes are too high for us not to listen to one another.

Maine lawmakers know we must roll up our sleeves and work together to find solutions to our problems. We know it won’t be easy. But we knew that when we signed up for the task. We owe it not only to the people of our districts, but to all the people of Maine to work together for the common good. Let’s not forget, that we took an oath of office to serve all the people of Maine. And regardless of which political party we belong to, our job is to get the job done.

In Maine, we have neither the time nor the interest in scoring political points, or playing partisan games. We’ve seen the damage caused by that kind of toxic politics, and it is not for us.

It shouldn’t take a potential “fall over the fiscal cliff,” or a national disaster, for us to think about what’s right for our state. We should always be doing that.

The decisions we make at the State House affect our communities, and our neighbors. We owe it to ourselves and to each other to work together and find solutions to our problems. We won’t always agree. But we must begin from a place of wanting to work together—regardless of political party and ideology. Solving the challenges for our state requires putting our differences aside and finding common ground. We are all Mainers.

So as we welcome the new year, let us also welcome a return to the tradition of Maine politics working for the people of Maine.

Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Dawn Hill. And I wish you and yours a Happy New Year.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Hardworking Mainers Pay Their Bills, Government Should too

Posted on January 5, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

lepage officeHello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

This week, newly elected officials across our country and state started what is supposed to be the work of ‘the people.’ Budget talk has dominated discussions for months and the ‘so called’ fiscal cliff is starting to hit home for many Mainers.

Maine’s average household income is about $48-thousand, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the federal payroll tax change will affect thousands of working families leaving them with less money.

An average family will lose about one-thousand dollars from their paycheck in 2013 because of the payroll tax change – a decrease that will likely make it difficult for Mainers to pay their own bills.

I am proud to share with Mainers that the tax cuts passed by the Maine Legislature in the last biennium will save a family of four with an income of $48,000 a little more than $300 annually.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be much light at the end of the tunnel on the national stage. A new Congress took office this week and those lawmakers will soon be confronted with mounting debt to the tune of $16-trillion. It remains unclear as to whether or not lawmakers will increase the debt ceiling. Credit rating agencies have repeatedly warned that the United States could face another downgrade by 2014, or sooner, if Congress doesn’t come up with a plan to reduce the national debt.

Unlike Washington, Maine does not have the luxury of printing money or increasing any sort of debt ceiling. We must balance a budget and we must pay our bills.

Currently, Maine owes hospitals nearly $500-million. These overdue bills are from welfare reimbursements that go back as far as 2009. Two years ago, I led the effort to ensure Maine hospitals would get their money and about $250 million was paid. But we have to settle up now for a couple of reasons. First, it is putting good careers on the line. Positions are unfilled, layoffs have occurred, and pay cuts have been taken by workers to fill the void.

Second, if we neglect to pay now, Maine taxpayers will pay more later. Right now, the State owes $484 million with the State share totaling $186 million at the moment. You see, since 2010, the federal government has provided less reimbursement money for welfare programs.

The Obama Administration which is saving the federal government money is reducing match rates, but it is making states dig deeper into their budgets to offset the difference.

In 2010, for every dollar Maine spent on welfare, the federal government gave us three dollars. Today, Maine receives only about one dollar and seventy cents for every dollar the State pays.

The future is not getting any brighter in Washington so the State can expect the match rate to continue to go down. And let’s not forget its Maine taxpayers who are paying the bill.

This is serious. Maine families have budgets and have to live within their means and I don’t think the government should be treated any different. Hard working Mainers pay their bills and the government should too – after all, it is the people’s money the government has.

Paying Maine hospitals will help to fuel a sluggish economy. Five-hundred million dollars pumped into an industry that employs 30-thousand Mainers will enable the struggling economy to stabilize. And in order to balance budgets, the State needs a robust economy.

Ignoring this problem is simply irresponsible. It puts both the economy and good paying healthcare careers in jeopardy. To remain solvent, Maine people pay their bills, and balance their checkbook. It is simply time that Maine State Government do the same.

We need to let lawmakers know that it’s time to pay the bills.

Thank you for listening.

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