Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget) in Public Hearing

Posted on March 17, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Here is the 3/16/15 agenda for the 127th Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committees on Appropriations and Criminal Justice and Public Safety taking up of LR 1852, Governor Paul LePage’s proposed biennial budget for FY 2016-7, followed by clips from the public hearing.

    Corrections, Department of
    · Administration – Corrections
    · Adult Community Corrections
    · Bolduc Correctional Facility
    · Capital Construction / Repairs / Improvements – Corrections
    · Central Maine Pre-release Center
    · Charleston Correctional Facility
    · Correctional Center
    · Correctional Medical Services Fund
    · Corrections Food
    · Corrections Industries
    · Departmentwide – Overtime
    · Downeast Correctional Facility
    · Justice – Planning, Projects & Statistics
    · Juvenile Community Corrections
    · Long Creek Youth Development Center
    · Mountain View Youth Development Center
    · Office of Victim Services
    · Parole Board
    · Prisoner Boarding
    · Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center
    · State Prison
    · Language (Part “II” – authorizes the Department to transfer certain funds between accounts
    within the same fund to pay for overtime expenses)
    · Language (Part “JJ”- authorizes the Department to use unexpended Personal Services
    balances for Capital Expenditures in the following year)
    · Language (Part “KK” – authorizes transfer of positions within the Department of Corrections
    during limited periods in the current biennium)
    · Language (Part “LL” – authorizes transfers between accounts to pay for food, heating and
    utilities)
    · Language (Part “WWW” – removes the Media and Public Information Officer in the
    Department of Corrections)
    Corrections, State Board of
    · Electronic Monitoring Fund – State Board of Corrections
    · State Board of Corrections Operational Support Fund
    Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, Department of
    · Administration – Maine Emergency Management Agency
    · Emergency Response Operations
    · Stream Gaging Cooperative Program
    · Language (Part “MM” – provides temporary funding until federal funding becomes available)
    Fire Protection Services Commission, Maine
    · Maine Fire Protection Services Commission
    Public Safety, Department of
    · Administration – Public Safety
    · Background Checks – Certified Nursing Assistants
    · Capitol Police, Bureau of
    · Computer Crimes
    · Consolidated Emergency Communications
    · Criminal Justice Academy
    · Drug Enforcement Agency
    · Emergency Medical Services
    · Fire Marshall – Office of
    · Highway Safety DPS

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 1

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 2

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 3

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 4

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 5

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Public Responds to LePage FY 2016-17 Biennial Budget (Day 1)

Posted on February 18, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Governor LePage rolls out FY 2016-17 biennial budget proposal

Governor LePage rolls out FY 2016-17 biennial budget proposal

Back in January, Maine Governor Paul LePage and members of his administration presented the FY 2016-2017 biennial budget proposal to the state. Since then, various members of the administration have met with the 127th Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs standing committee (with other committees, as applicable) on multiple occasions, met with the public, and held numerous press conferences to sway not just members of the public but also their own party to support the proposals.

Now, it is the public’s turn to speak up. Maine House Democrats shared the following summarized testimony presented to the committee on Tuesday.

    Adam Lee, Lee Auto Malls: “The idea of lowering the tax rate for the wealthiest members of society is misguided…When my taxes are lowered it leaves less to be distributed to the municipalities. I get a tax cut and everyone else in town gets to chip in to pay for it through higher property taxes. Doesn’t sound fair? It isn’t…. My business depends on a strong middle class. I sell good old fashioned Dodges, GMC trucks, Nissans, and used cars, as well as other brands. A strong middle class is not helped by tax breaks for the rich. Competitive rates, and tax breaks for the middle class is much more useful. A skilled workforce is the one of the single largest factors determining where a business locates. Invest in education, training, our University and community College System.”

    Veteran and Nurse Richard Bissell of Bangor: “I’m here to oppose these drastic cuts proposed by the Governor for wealthy Mainers and corporations, especially when those cuts come at the expense of the middle class and poor Mainers…Property taxes are an impossible cost for many Mainers, from young couples and families that are in their first home up to seniors try to age in their homes.”

    Small Business Owner Carson Lynch of Gorham Grind: “This plan would cut taxes for the very wealthy while effectively raising taxes on the lower and middle income Mainers. Not only is this morally wrong, it will hurt Maine small businesses and ship money out of state….My small business runs on very small margins. I’m not a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. A change to Maine’s tax code could make or break my business.”

    Clam Digger Skip Worcester of Hermon: “I’m here today because I am deeply concerned with the Governor’s proposed cuts to income and corporate taxes in Maine…Corporations are making record profits in Maine but they are not paying their fair share in taxes – their taxes have been less and less and their profits have been higher and higher, it’s the reverse for us middle and lower classes. Our wages have stayed practically the same while the cost of living, heating and eating have gone up.”

Among others who spoke to the committee was Davida Ammerman of Madison, whose testimony is below.

    Representative Rotundo, Senator Hamper, Representative Goode, and Senator McCormick, thank you for having me here today to speak with you.

    I am here today to ask you to oppose the cuts to corporate and income tax in the Governor’s proposed budget. With this proposal, we will see the divisions increase between rural areas that are not so affluent and able to carry the cost, am\nd more affluent ones that will. In a town like Madison where I live, the option to tax non-profits is not a viable source of revenue, forcing the town to increase property taxes to continue being viable.

    Without a fair and balanced budget we will be forcing older people to lose their homes, and rural town are going to have a hard time keeping up with basic services like roads, law enforcement, and schools. Being on fixed income, it is hard to be able to conceive of paying more in sales and property taxes, and for the increase in services that I will need as I age. The Governor’s proposal puts revenue at recession era levels, and it doesn’t add up so that means we are going to see more cuts at the state level in future years. This creates a huge amount of uncertainty for us aging Mainers- we don’t know what we can count on. I don’t know that I will be able to keep my house, or if I will be able to pass it on to my children as planned.

    On the other end this is going to be very hard and discouraging for young people in Maine as well. Our daughter, a single mom just barely making ends meet, would have to sell her house that she has worked so hard to get if her property taxes go, if the Homestead Exemption is cut for Mainers under 65, and she loses the chance to deduct her mortgage payment. Young kids that are already fighting student loans and low wages will lose their chance to get ahead. So many kids are just getting by already- this is making the American Dream even more unattainable.

    If we are going to start taxing non-profits and cutting so many programs in the state budget, how is that going to affect funding homeless shelters and other organizations providing services for people who are just barely getting by and depending on these services for life support?

    I hate to see the American Dream being put out of reach for so many of the population.

    Thank You.

Quinn Gormley of Portland was kind enough to share her prepared testimony as well:

    My name is Quinn Gormley. I’m currently an undergraduate student at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, but I grew up in Damariscotta, where my father, a bus driver, and my mother, the director of our local library, still live and work today.

    For most of my life, my family has proudly belonged to the working class in this state. Growing up, my parents taught me the value of a hard day’s work, as my mother pulled sixty or more hour weeks, often with little to no pay, to keep the doors of the library open, and as my dad, who for my entire life has had to balance three different jobs just to help us make ends meet, waking up at 5 in the morning to drive a school bus, and often working late into the evening to get everything done.

    During the recession we were lucky. A school always needs bus drivers, and the library is valued by our community, so my parents managed to keep their jobs. Many in our town were not so lucky. And I so, as I read the details of this new budget, I am concerned. I am concerned that this budget is shifting the burden onto Middle Class families and families like my own are not going to be able to afford it.

    As a student who is used to examining things critically, when I look at this budget, I see the governor’s tax cuts as forced false choices that prioritize income and estate tax cuts for Maine’s wealthiest individuals and large corporations at the expense of property tax relief for families like my own.

    Every dollar in tax cuts is a dollar that will have to be made up for with spending cuts. It just doesn’t make sense to prioritize tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and large corporations and leave the school bus drivers and librarians to fend for their own.

    As I navigate college with the hope to stay in Maine once I graduate, this budget does not seem to pave the way for a state with increased job growth, in contrast, states that have pursued this path in recent years have actually seen worse, not better, economic performance than neighboring states. They’ve had to cut state investments in education, and workforce training. I want to stay, work, and live in Maine but when my state pushes policies that hurt education, job training, and the middle class, I doubt that I can.

    This budget is the wrong path for Maine. It benefits a small percentage of Mainer’s, and the costs will be passed onto those hard working Mainers who are just trying to make it work. And so, I urge you; please oppose the cuts to corporate and income tax in this proposed budget. Thank you for your attention and all you do.

Democrats on the AFA committee later released their own statements:

    Rep. Peggy Rotundo, the House Chair of the Appropriations Committee: “We haven’t been getting the the full story about Governor LePage’s budget. I’m deeply concerned that the ratcheting down of state revenues in the out years will mean fewer dollars in the future for workforce development, education, and many of the very things businesses and workers say we need to succeed. We want a tax reform plan that is paid for now and in the future so we don’t jeopardize our support for Maine families, our schools, or workforce, or for our local firefighters and police.”

    Senator Linda Valentino (Saco): “I support tax reform but this budget sidelines Maine families at the expense of the wealthy and big corporations. We heard a lot of concerns from people today about the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction, the Homestead exemption, and the property tax deduction. If these deductions are eliminated, it will jeopardize Maine’s economic recovery.”

Maine Center for Economic Policy released the following reactions to the budget proposal and information. MECEP economist Joel Johnson’s full testimony can be found here. But these portions jump out:

MECEP economist Joel Johnson speaks before joint AFA, Taxation committees

MECEP economist Joel Johnson speaks before joint AFA, Taxation committees

    The combined fiscal impact of these tax cuts in FY 2019 is about $677 million per year, according to Maine Revenue Services. That’s a tax cut equal to 19% of General Fund revenue forecast for that year. The sales tax increases in the Governor’s budget don’t cover the cost of that tax cut, and as a result, the state must cut spending by $266 million in FY 2019. That spending cut will grow into subsequent fiscal years as the corporate income tax cut fully phases in.

    Approximately $167 million of the governor’s proposed spending cuts will come in the form of the elimination of revenue sharing to towns and cities. Faced with a loss of revenue sharing and struggling to meet obligations to fund K-12 education, state and local governments will have to raise taxes and/or cut spending. That means higher taxes and/or fewer services like snowplowing, public safety, road maintenance, libraries, and parks. The governor’s proposal saves an additional $12 million by eliminating the homestead exemption for most Mainers.

    The governor’s proposal fails to specify the remaining $90 million in state spending cuts it encompasses. In fact, the Governor’s budget only specifies a two-year spending plan while proposing tax cuts that span multiple budget periods. The income and estate tax cuts proposed in the Governor’s budget, combined with revamped arbitrary limits on state appropriation growth, will prevent the state from reaching the statutorily-mandated goal of funding 55% of the cost of K-12 education in the state any time in the near future. Yet the Governor’s budget proposal includes a target of 55% for Fiscal Year 2017 and beyond. That is not a credible, achievable objective given the income and estate tax cuts included in a different section of the same budget proposal.

Other points raised by MECEP for consideration:

    1. The governor’s tax cuts aren’t paid for and are fiscally irresponsible. They set Maine up for future fiscal crises, which will lead to deep cuts to education, health care, job training, and other foundational components of a strong, sustainable economy.

    • By fiscal year 2019, the governor’s plan cuts income, estate, and corporate taxes by $690 million and raises sales and use taxes by $424 million. That leaves a shortfall of $266 million. The governor proposes to make up this shortfall, in part, by eliminating $167 million in state aid to towns for local public services. Legislators will have to make up the remaining balance by additional spending cuts beyond those that have been enacted over recent years.

    • The governor’s plan locks in recession-era levels of revenue putting state spending as a share of the economy at historic lows. That means state funding for education, health care, and other services will continue to fall behind even as the economy recovers. It also means that Maine will have virtually no capacity to absorb unanticipated future expenses or to maintain critical public investments when the next economic downturn occurs.

    2. The governor’s tax cuts force false choices and prioritize income and estate tax cuts for Maine’s wealthiest individuals and large corporations at the expense of property tax relief for middle-class Mainers.

    • Every dollar in tax cuts is a dollar that legislators will have to make up by either raising other taxes or with cuts in spending for education and other services. At a time when the state is already failing to fulfill its commitments to Maine’s students and communities it doesn’t make sense to place a higher priority on tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and large corporations. For example, eliminating the estate tax will cost over $37 million by fiscal year 2019 and benefit approximately 150 of the wealthiest estates. This potentially comes at the expense of making progress in funding K-12 education, supporting prescription drug assistance to low-income seniors, maintaining cost-effective health care prevention programs, or providing college scholarships to Maine’s future workers.

    • Part of the governor’s plan includes eliminating the Homestead Exemption for Maine residents under age 65 which is equivalent to raising property taxes between $120 and $160 for hundreds of thousands of Maine families. Additional property tax increases are likely for middle-class Mainers as communities are forced to pick up more of the costs of K-12 education, public safety, and road maintenance as called for in the governor’s budget.
    • While we don’t oppose cutting taxes, we believe it can be done in a way that doesn’t force false choices and that distributes the benefits more evenly across all income groups. Because this plan doesn’t maximize opportunities to export taxes to out-of-state visitors and part-year residents and places higher priority on tax cuts that deliver the greatest benefits to wealthy individuals and large corporations, it falls short in terms of securing adequate revenue and in improving the overall fairness of Maine’s tax system.

    3. The governor’s tax plan is a failed prescription for growing Maine’s economy.

    Note: As there will be weeks of hearings and work on the budget proposal, this will be part of a series of posts. This week’s testimonies will be broken up into daily installments of the highlights.

    ———

    RELATED:

  • Sifting Through The LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DAFS Commissioner Rosen Meets With AFA
  • Sifting Through The LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: LePage, MDOT Roll Out Over $430 Million In Projects
  • Sifting Through the LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DACF Meets With AFA, AG Committees
  • Sifting Through The LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DHHS Meets With AFA, HHS.
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Maine Senate Floor Debate on Override of LePage LD 1509 FY 14-15 Budget Veto (June 26 VIDEOS)

Posted on December 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

3amigosNOTE: Now that Senate Minority leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) has indicated he is considering entering the #2CD #MEGOP primary fray against former Senate President Kevin (“Third time’s the charm, I tell ya!”) Raye and former Treasurer Bruce (“Which district do I live in, again?”) Poliquin, it’s time to go back through and dust off some posts.

Oh, yeah… Blaine (“I’m running, too!”) Richardson is in the mix there, too- somewhere.

Here’s a goodie- the day Mike Thibodeau vote to sustain LePage’s veto and shut down the entire state government. Ah, good times!


(Originally posted 30 Jun 2013)

Before the Maine Senate voted decisively by a 26-9 tally last Wednesday to override Governor Paul LePage’s Tuesday veto on LD 1509, “An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015”, twenty members of that body rose to deliver speeches.

gop vs gopNOTE: Although Maine Republican Senators Assistant Minority Leader Roger Katz (Kennebec), Pat Flood (Kennebec; member of Appropriations committee), Brian Langley (Hancock), Tom Saviello (Franklin), Roger Sherman (Aroostook) and Edward Youngblood (Penobscot) joined Independent Senator Dick Woodbury (Cumberland) and all 19 Democratic Senators in overriding the Governor’s veto hence preventing a disastrous statewide government shutdown, there were no public statements released by their press office.

The closest one can find would be this scathing letter from Assistant Minority Leader and former Augusta Mayor Roger Katz (Kennebec), which was picked up by the Washington Post.

Katz has taken some heat from his own party for the letter:

    Commenters on a well-known conservative website blasted Katz for attempting to compromise on Medicaid expansion. The senator was dubbed a RINO, a “Republican In Name Only.” One commenter suggested that Katz is predisposed to support liberal policies because he is Jewish and an attorney.

Ugly- and indicative of a party very deeply divided indeed.

Here in order of speakers are clips of the full debate. The statements added are from a Senate Democratic press release sent out after the vote. Additionally was this statement from Senate President Justin Alfond (Cumberland).

    “We did what the people of Maine expect us to do— we passed a responsible budget that will keep the state working,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “This is what we came here to do: work together to find common ground and help our state thrive.”

*Related: Maine Senate Debate On LD 1509, FY 14-15 Biannual Budget (June 13 VIDEOS)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Dawn Hill (York)

    “Today’s vote is no longer a vote on whether you like the budget; today’s vote is a vote to either shut down or not to shut down our state’s government,” said Senator Dawn Hill of York, the Senate Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “I’m proud that our Republican colleagues joined us and stuck together to keep our state going, and pass a responsible, balanced budget for the people of Maine.”

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Pat Flood (Kennebec)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Emily Cain (Penobscot)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Brian Kangley (Hancock)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator David Burns (Washington)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator John Cleveland (Androscoggin)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Doug Thomas (Somerset)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Tom Saviello (Franklin)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Anne Haskell (Cumberland)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Colleen Lachowicz (Kennebec)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Margaret Craven (Androscoggin)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Chris Johnson (Lincoln)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Stan Gerzofsky (Cumberland)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Andre Cushing (Penobscot)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator John Tuttle (York)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Geoff Gratwick (Penobscot)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Roger Katz (Kennebec)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Troy Jackson (Aroostook)

“I have voted on six biennial budgets in my time in the Legislature, and this is the budget vote I am most proud of,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “It’s certainly not a perfect budget, but it is a responsible budget. This is what legislating should look like.

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Mike Thibodeau (Waldo)

LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Seth Goodall (Sagadahoc)

    “While no one got everything they wanted in this budget, everyone got something they needed. That is compromise, and that is what is needed in divided government in order to move Maine forward,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “Today’s vote is a vote for a higher responsibility to put our state on solid footing. It’s also a vote for an opportunity to avoid property tax increases on every Maine homeowner. It’s a vote for an investment in our schools and our children–and it’s a vote to keep the lights on.”

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(UPDATED) Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Warns that “126th Isn’t Over Yet”; “Playing Politics is Easy, Governing is Hard”

Posted on July 12, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

UPDATE: Apparently Senate President Justin Alfond also took offense with much of the Governor’s weekly address, as he issued this statement moments ago:

Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, right, and House speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speak to reporters after both the House and Senate voted to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of the state budget, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at the State House in Augusta, Maine.  (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, right, and House speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speak to reporters after both the House and Senate voted to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the state budget, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

      ALFOND RESPONDS TO GOVERNOR’S RADIO ADDRESS

    AUGUSTA— Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland released a statement in response to the following assertion made by Governor LePage in his radio address:

      “Playing politics is easy; governing effectively is hard. As Chief Executive, I take my responsibilities on behalf of the people of Maine seriously.

      Our Administration has worked hard to change the attitude within government and has brought more transparency to government than any recent administration. We work with citizens and businesses to solve problems. We strive to be efficient and responsible with taxpayer dollars. And we only introduce public policy that benefits Mainers and our state.”

    President Alfond replied:

    “The governor certainly has changed the tone in Augusta. He has made politics one of the most contentious and divided in our state’s history. He has vetoed more bills than any other governor, he has lobbed insults that require censorship on TV, and he has continued to put his stubbornness ahead of the best interests of Maine people. We deserve better than this.

    The governor’s radio address shows no connection to what he does every day. It’s insulting that he thinks Mainers aren’t paying attention and that he thinks he can get away with his irresponsible behavior.”

    ###

Audio link and link to address as shared by the governor’s office.

All other links below are not as originally shared, nor are stresses. ~AP

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St. Patty's DayMaine’s first 126th Legislative session was plagued by misguided priorities and political games.

Democratic leadership chose their strategy, which was to attack and delay.

Hello. This is Governor Paul R. LePage.

Playing politics is easy; governing effectively is hard. As Chief Executive, I take my responsibilities on behalf of the people of Maine seriously.

Our Administration has worked hard to change the attitude within government and has brought more transparency to government than any recent administration. We work with citizens and businesses to solve problems. We strive to be efficient and responsible with taxpayer dollars. And we only introduce public policy that benefits Mainers and our state.

There are nearly 500 new bills that will become law in October or earlier as a result of this session.

In one of the most appalling moves of the session, however, some Democrats took a stand against the Administration at the expense of our military men and women. A Governor’s bill was submitted supporting Maine’s uniformed military members having access to public schools.

Military recruiters told our Administration several schools in southern Maine only allow minimal access of recruiters. Those high schools brought to our attention were Oak Hill, Noble, Wells, York, Kennebunk, Gorham and Yarmouth. We also were informed that two additional high schools, Portland and Yarmouth, refused uniformed recruiters from stepping on campus.

Democrats have claimed there is no problem, but in the same breath some Democrats have said uniformed military service members may intimidate high school students. So, the father or mother who arrives in uniform to pick up their child from school is threatening? The thought is preposterous.

Paul LePageOne Democrat even said he’s “more inclined to believe our local superintendents than a military recruiter.”

I’d bet my life on the word of a recruiter over a superintendent any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

As I prepare to go to Gettysburg, I am disgusted by these behaviors. The Democrats blatant rejection of this bill sends a message to all military service members – past and present – that they are not welcome in Maine’s public school system. The disdain is evident and it is a sad day for Maine when we cannot come together in agreement to support our troops.

Maine has a proud and long-standing tradition of service to our state and country. We have the largest number of veterans per capita in the nation and we owe our heartfelt gratitude to our troops who defend our freedom and sacrifice time with their family, friends and communities to serve.

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    NOTE: It is well known that our governor himself, unlike many men of his age, was not in the military during Vietnam and in fact, was living in New Brunswick raising his first family at the time. Paul LePage never served in the military in any capacity and has in fact been a harsh critic on numerous occasions of our nation’s Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama.

    Maine's First Lady Ann LePage attends VA ribbon cutting ceremony in Lewiston with US Congressman Rep. Mike Michaud, who is now running for her husband's office in 2014.

    Maine’s First Lady Ann LePage attends VA ribbon cutting ceremony in Lewiston with US Congressman Rep. Mike Michaud, who is now running for her husband’s office in 2014.

    Repeatedly the job of honoring Maine’s citizens who have served their country has fallen to First Lady Ann LePage, who has done a far better job of representing our state well than her husband ever could; our state is and should be grateful for and proud of our First Lady’s tireless work. That Governor LePage is speaking up so strongly is just another example of odd and inappropriate behavior, which the state has gotten rather used to over the course of his tenure.

    Here are statements released from Maine veterans serving in the 126th Legislature, regarding LD 1503, link to the various roll calls here:

    “I’m a Vietnam veteran. I have a Bronze Star. I belong to the American Legion. But I don’t want to see this sort of cynical misuse of patriotism for political ends,” said Rep. Charlie Priest, D-Brunswick. “This issue is about local control. It’s not about whether we love the military or not. Of course we love the military.”

    Priest is a Navy veteran who earned a Bronze Star for his service in the Republic of Vietnam in 1970 and 1971.

    “I’m very disappointed that this bill was used as a political tool to try to divide us. I’m a veteran and I’m a patriot. I know what side I’m on,” said Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Navy and is a member of the American Legion. “As far as I can tell, the ‘problem’ the bill addresses doesn’t exist. No factual evidence of a problem has ever been produced.”

    “This bill is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t appear to exist. We want our military to succeed and we also want to leave decisions to educators and parents in keeping with our time-honored tradition of home rule,” said Rep. Bruce MacDonald, D-Boothbay, the committee’s House chair.

———————————————————————–

Military service is not for everyone and this bill did nothing to force students into serving. It simply forbade school administrators from refusing recruiters in uniform to visit with students interested in exploring life’s options.

I encourage Mainers to find out where politicians stand on this important common sense bill before they cast their next vote. I assure you that this will not be the last time this bill is introduced.

I do not form opinions about policy based on party lines. Our Administration identifies the problem, reviews the options, and develops a plan. I stand by my principles and I don’t know any other way than to fight for what I believe in.

Maine has challenging issues that must be addressed. While we have the lowest unemployment rate in years, we need to become more competitive.

Electricity prices must be lowered and government spending must be curbed. I want Maine businesses to have the opportunity to thrive and create new jobs, and I want you to keep your hard-earned money not give it to government.

Furthermore, the taxes the Legislature just raised on you were completely unnecessary.

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NOTE: Um… who’s zooming who? His own PARTY offered their own late budget, as it became readily apparent that the LePage budget was set to force municipalities to raise taxes on every Mainer, to counter the unfunded $400 million tax cuts to the wealthy passed by the GOP led 125th Legislature.

Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), called the proposal from legislative Republicans to restore $368 million to the state budget “a step in the right direction.” But he cautioned members of the Legislature’s budget-writing appropriations committee to reject the Republican proposals to tax nonprofits and take over the assets of the Maine Health Access Foundation to raise additional revenues and seek other “realistic revenue alternatives.”

    “Yesterday, legislative Republicans acknowledged the need to break with the governor and restore $368 million to the state budget in order to avoid property tax increases on hardworking Maine families,” Martin said. “Some of the most conservative members of the Republican Party joined in this appeal that includes new revenue. MECEP has maintained all along that Maine working families need a budget that funds our schools, protects our elderly and disabled, and gives our economy a boost without crushing property tax increases. Republican admission that additional revenues are needed to balance the budget is a step in the right direction.

    Yesterday’s proposal did not include realistic revenue alternatives,” Martin said. “The proposals to tax nonprofits and take over the assets of the Maine Health Access Foundation amount to a ‘hail Mary’ pass in the wrong direction. There are much better alternatives that we urge members of the appropriations committee to consider.”

Perhaps Governor LePage was somehow unaware of the effects of his budget as proposed upon his former city of Waterville… a reminder, via current Mayor Karen Heck:

    Karen Heck, Waterville’s Mayor, has long been outspoken in her criticism of tax cuts and how those cuts affect municipalities, as was her predecessor, Paul LePage. She laid out a bleak picture:

    “Even the best of these (Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee) proposals means a loss of nearly 50% million to municipalities over the next two years. We have been cutting services and trimming payroll for several years. We simply cannot absorb that kind of cut without raising taxes. Revenue sharing is an obligation, a bill the state should pay.”

He also has yet to acknowledge this clip:

——————————————-

I don’t know what Mainers will remember most about this first session. Perhaps it’s the recruiter bill or maybe that the hospital welfare debt was finally paid. Quite frankly, the tax increases disturb me the most.

——————————————

(Or maybe it will be these… )

More on that last, as LePage’s repeated statements of how the Administrations’ words were not heard by Appropriations is an out-and-out bald-faced lie. Both Commissioners Mayhew and Millett were heard by the AFA committee and the Governor knows this to be true. The Governor’s arrival to AFA on May 19th’s special session was at the 15 minute mark of this 45 plus minute recording:



——————————————————————————

And the way I look at it: the 126th isn’t over yet. So, in January we will have a plan. A plan that repeals the tax increases and is designed to move Maine forward.

The question is will Democrats choose to fight against me again or work for the Maine people.

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Governor LePage’s Mulligan

Posted on July 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

paul jebOriginally posted Jun 27 and now bumped back to top, as news has come out tonight that Maine’s self-proclaimed “blue collar” Governor Paul LePage, who last week denounced the state’s “country club Legislature” and said that he would be discussing options with his family regarding whether or not to run for re-election, announced before a hundred supporters at the posh Jeb Bush hosted, up to $3k per couple Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport fundraiser that he is indeed running for re-election in 2014.

(Video link here, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow a few weeks’ ago had something to say regarding Jeb Bush’s decision to hold this fundraiser. She also took the matter up again on this evening’s show.)

It should be noted that the task of informing the world of this decision came not by press release nor traditional local Maine media, but rather fell to State Senator Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) to deliver the news second-hand to the world, as Maine’s most transparent Governor instructed his senior political advisor Brent Littlefield to issue the following reminding email to Maine media late this afternoon:

    “Just a quick email reminder that tonight’s LePage event in Kennebunkport is closed press.

    There are no press avails before or after the event.

    Brent Littlefield, Senior Political Adviser to Governor LePage”

augusta cc

    mul·li·gan
    /ˈməligən/
    Noun

    1. A stew made from odds and ends of food.

    2. (in informal golf) An extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, not counted on the scorecard.

—–

UPDATED with earlier portion of the press conference that I missed; many thanks to PPH’s Steve Mistler.

UPDATE x2: Friday’s Portland Press Herald is chock-full of scathing missives today in Letters to the Editor: Governor disrespects people he serves.

—–

Yesterday after the House (114-34) and Senate (26-9) delivered crushing blows to Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1509, the FY 14-15 fiscal budget bill and in doing so avoided the first statewide government shutdown in over twenty years, the governor held a press conference in which he was a far, far more subdued man than just last week:

Via Steve Mistler, this earlier portion of the press conference:

    “I’m very disappointed on this budget. Until we start understanding what makes an economy drive and why the southeast and the southwest and the Atlantic states have such good economies, until we emulate some of their behaviors we are not going to be anywheres but 50th place in the country for doing business.”

    “It’s a real sad day for the state of Maine. We took, I thought, with the 125th Legislature, that we took two steps forward for the state. Today, I think we took three steps back. I really feel bad for today.”

While admittedly not a complete version of the Governor’s press conference (full audio here), the above was almost 15 minutes’ worth of it and many of Maine’s various media were in attendance, including reporters from formerly access denied Portland Press Herald:

    In an impromptu news conference right after Wednesday’s final override vote in the Senate, LePage reacted calmly, but strongly. He criticized Republicans and Democrats alike for a plan that “solidified our place as the 50th worst place to do business for the foreseeable future.”

    He said the Legislature is a “country club” where lawmakers are more interested in getting along with each other than with him.

Paul LePageAs Lewiston Sun Journal reported, LePage said he was considering his options:

    LePage said he would be consulting more with his family before deciding whether he would seek a second term as governor.

    I am going to be meeting with my family at some point and we are going to be talking it over,”
    LePage said. “Quite frankly, I don’t know how you recover from this. I really don’t know how you recover from a tax increase. This is a giant obstacle. It’s like having a giant hole in the bottom of your ship and you are trying to get across the pond.”

During the press conference, the Governor repeatedly called his originally submitted budget “a good budget” (so good that the silence from his caucus’ after the State of the State address was deafening) and repeatedly backtracked on his 2009 stance regarding revenue sharing.

To review the clip of 2009 Waterville Mayor Paul LePage denouncing revenue sharing cuts to his then-city:

LePage was critical of the Democrats in leadership who would not talk to him about the budget, again called out the Appropriations Committee for not allowing him to speak on mic, in particular the Republicans on the committee and then called out House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) as “having not been around” to talk with or had been “unwilling to talk to me”, that the Republican Party is not a strong one currently in Maine, and was unaware that the energy omnibus bill that he had vetoed had been overturned in the House and heading for the Senate.

It needs to be noted that while many communities denounced the Governor’s budget, not a single one even attempted to pass a resolution supporting LePage, a point raised by Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland) during this week’s Democratic leadership media availability event.

But apparently the coverage was not sufficient for the Governor, as he decided to declare yesterday’s disaster a “mulligan” and try again to explain himself to the Maine people, today going before the camera once more, with his office releasing the following footage this afternoon.

Roll the clip:

From the accompanying press release:

    Governor Paul R. LePage speaks out about why he could not support the Legislature’s budget, which included tax increases, in a new video released by the Office of the Governor.

    In the five-minute video, the Governor shares his thoughts about how higher taxes will affect Mainers and condemns decreased funding to programs like Jobs for Maine Graduates.

    In the video, he notes that tax increases will have a devastating effect on the elderly and Mainers who live within their own budgets. Sales, meals and lodging taxes will be increased to fund the state budget.

      “Retired mill workers living on fixed incomes; elderly widows collecting Social Security; and our veterans, who receive nothing more than their military pension—each of them care about this tax increase,” Governor LePage said.

      “We are already one of the highest taxed states in the nation. We have some of the lowest per capita income in the country. Now is not the time to ask Mainers to give more to fund government… For some legislators, it was more important to count votes and reject my proposals than do what is right for our citizens.”

      “Maine people deserve a considered, reasoned debate, and they will hold legislators responsible for their decisions… It is time to look past the next election and look forward to the next generation.”

    This sort of passive-aggressive communication by Maine’s Chief Executive brings back memories of the inexplicable and strange video released in last January, as former CBS reporter now LePage staffer Adrienne Bennett displayed a remarkable lack of journalistic integrity by “interviewing” the governor:

    Harder thrown pitches than these can be seen at a playground Whiffle ball game… Now, I love a good train wreck sort of news story as much as the next person, but this is just getting sad.

    In his opening statement, The Governor claims “not to be a politician and be a blue collar governor”. Gotta call a 1 stroke penalty for this one!

      Ann LePage:“He was what my dad always called a ‘white collar. My dad said, ‘Ann, for god’s sake, he’s a white collar. He doesn’t know how to work.’”

    LePage garners another stroke regarding the claims that the sales tax on meals and lodging will affect Maine businesses. Watch this from Rep. Jethro Pease (R-Morrill) from yesterday:

    Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig (D-Cape Elizabeth) agreed:

    And it goes downhill from there, enough so that Bangor Daily News shared Governor LePage’s “Mulligan” as part of a larger piece, asking “Does Governor LePage Still Matter?”

    Ouch.

    Then there is this: “Gov. LePage’s recent actions cry out for an intervention”.

    And this in the PPH. Maine Voices: Assistant GOP leader: Governor’s behavior sets unfortunate tone in Augusta
    .

    That one by Senate Assistant Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) even made it into the Washington Post: Top Maine Republican legislator: ‘I am embarrassed’ by LePage.

    Heh. Wonder how Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) feels about that (“Top Republican”) interesting mistype?

    An argument could possibly be made that the Governor sees himself as having a “Tin Cup” moment, but the reality here is indeed something entirely different.

    Time to sign your card and call it a day, Governor…

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Maine House Floor Debate on LD 1509, Budget Veto Override (VIDEOS)

Posted on July 1, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

veto budgetSame as with their counterparts in the Senate, the House Republicans had nothing to say regarding the veto override vote (roll call).

Here are statements of House Democratic leadership and Appropriation committee member Rep. Peggy Rotundo (Lewiston), sent out via press release:

    “I thank the Maine lawmakers who worked tirelessly and came together to override this careless veto,” said House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. “We put to rest the specter of a state shutdown that has loomed over the Legislature for months. We made the responsible choice to support a bipartisan budget that blunts massive property tax hikes, puts money back into our classrooms and helps our seniors and people with disabilities.”

    The House Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, said the vote affirmed the “collaborative and responsible” work of the budget committee. “The bipartisan budget we again endorsed today will serve the people of Maine well. A government shutdown would not serve anyone,” said Rotundo.

    “I applaud lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for standing up to the governor’s reckless action and standing up for Maine people. The governor’s political games could have led to serious consequences: a shutdown of important services, property tax hikes, harm to workers and the health of our economy,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham.

    “No one got everything they wanted out of this compromise budget, but lawmakers were able to find common ground through hard work. They came together once again today for the well-being of our people and our state,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan.

Here is the order of speakers are the floor speeches from last week.

Floor speech of Rep. Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Lawrence Lockhart (R-Amherst) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. David Cotta (R-China) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Ben Chipman (I-Portland) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Stacey Guerin (R-Glenburn) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Paul McGowan (D-York) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Peggy Rotundo (D-Lewiston) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Jarred Crockett (R-Bethel) on LD 1509

Floor Speech of Rep. Jethro Pease (R-Morrill) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Stanley Short (D-Pittsfield) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Kathleen Chase (R-Wells) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. James Campbell (I-Newfield) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Dick Campbell (R-Orrington) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Erik Jorgensen (D-Portland) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Asst Minority Leader Rep. Alex Willette (R-Mapleton) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Ray Wallace (R-Dexter) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Rep. Wayne Parry (R-Arundel) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Majority Leader Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) on LD 1509

Floor speech of Rep. Andrea Boland (D-Sanford) on LD 1509

(AUDIO) Floor speech of Minority Leader Rep. Ken Fredette on LD 1509

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Weekly Address of Governor LePage: Protecting the Next Generation

Posted on June 29, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Audio link here.

Paul LePageMy fellow Mainers, as many of you may know, I grew up on the streets, and I’m a blue-collar Governor. I’m not a politician, and I tell it like it is.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Some say my language is colorful and refreshing. Others say it is rough and offensive. If I have offended anyone, I apologize. But folks, it is time to wake up. Sometimes the only way I can get your attention is to use straight talk.

Over the years, I’ve been criticized for my comments about the President and the dangers of the federal government growing too large and too powerful.

Since then, we have seen an administration embroiled in scandals over the IRS, Benghazi, drones, spying on the press and gun-running. Talk about offensive! And that doesn’t even include the 17 trillion dollars in national debt or a health insurance mandate that will crush the life out of the economy.

Some of my comments about politics in Augusta have also caused outrage. If the Maine people saw what really happens under the dome, they would be outraged too.

Politicians, lobbyists, unions and special interests ignore what is best for Mainers and fight to maintain the status quo. They work overtime to expand welfare and to grow government, and they will gladly increase your taxes to pay for it.

They would rather enact a bad budget that harms Mainers than make the hard choices and face the consequences at the next election. I find that obscene.

I proposed legislation that would reduce electricity costs for everyone, decrease taxes, reform welfare, create jobs and improve education. These proposals would benefit all Mainers.

But politicians work around the clock to kill common-sense legislation, just because I proposed it. They would rather ignore the best interests of Maine people than see the Governor get good legislation passed. That is truly offensive.

Being hateful toward me is one thing. But punishing Mainers just to see me lose is absolutely disgraceful. One Democratic leader told the media that it doesn’t matter what the Governor does because they have the votes to override the budget veto.

This kind of obstructionist has no place doing the people’s business. They come to Augusta to keep score for political losses and wins, not to do what’s right for the Maine people.

You won’t see these stories in the media. When the politicians step in front of the cameras, they say they are seeking bipartisan solutions to improve the lives of Mainers. Sounds good. Then they turn around, ignore the Maine people and get back to their score sheets.

Folks, if you believe the status quo is working, then you are sadly mistaken. I might have to use some street talk to wake you up.

Politicians strive to be politically correct and end up doing the wrong things. I’m not politically correct, but we strive to present good public policy.

I worked in the private sector as a successful turn-around consultant for failing businesses. I see our state as a failing organization in need of a turn-around. It will take tough decisions and bold moves to eject Maine from its status as one of the nation’s highest-taxed states and the 50th worse place to do business.

It’s not a job for the weak or faint-hearted. But Augusta is full of politicians who refuse to reduce the size of government. They refuse to improve education, and they absolutely refuse to reform welfare. They won’t consider resources that would reduce the cost of electricity for everyone. They won’t even attempt to lower your taxes.

Yes, folks, this makes me mad. And it should make you mad, too.

I came to Augusta to make a difference in the lives of Mainers, not to count votes and compromise my principles. I’ve told my Cabinet that if we are in Augusta only to get re-elected, we are in the wrong business.

We are not here to get through the next election; we are here to protect the next generation.

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Maine Legislative Round Up and Preview for Tomorrow: Vetoes, The Budget, Energy Omnibus Bill and More

Posted on June 25, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

With so many bills being taken up in the waning days of the first half of the 126th Legislative session, it is impossible to write each bill up properly- things happen fast and furious in Augusta and quite often, one feels like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between the Chambers and wishes for roller skates to cover as much activity, debates, press conferences and news stories as possible!

house staffThis is as appropriate a time as any to thank the dedicated staffs in both chambers, the clerks, aides and more for both parties- these people do a tremendous job behind the scenes to ensure that the complicated processes at play in making laws are done in as orderly a fashion as possible, right down to the IT folks running the wireless networking within the building and dealing with the occasional non-working lights on the boards.

So with this in mind, let’s quickly try to cover what we can before the 126th comes back in tomorrow!

First off, we have this handy list from the Governor’s office of bills either signed, allowed to pass without his signature or vetoed- with those vetoes come specific messages to the Legislature. Governor LePage has now issued at least a dozen vetoes this past week alone and as such, the bills each now face more votes in both the House and Senate for override of the veto or to sustain the Governor’s veto.

Yesterday as earlier reported, the Governor as expected vetoed LD 1509, “An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015”. This vote will certainly be “the one to watch” tomorrow, as both chambers sent the bill to the Governor with super majority tallies and failure to pass the bill will result in a statewide government shutdown starting on July 1.

Here is the Governor’s letter.

Another bill that was vetoed at 11:55pm on the last mandatory Legislative session day by statute (June 19) and worth watching for tomorrow is the energy omnibus bill, LD 1559, “An Act To Reduce Energy Costs, Increase Energy Efficiency, Promote Electric System Reliability and Protect the Environment”.

Governor LePage issued the following statement:

    “Maine’s energy costs are too high – and it’s killing economic opportunity. Maine families pay more than 24 percent above the national average for electricity. Our businesses pay 14 percent more. Alternatives can help us move to lower the $3,000 or more that Mainers spend on average annually to heat their homes.”

LePage’s energy director Patrick Woodcock added:

    “We should be focusing on what could unite the State of Maine and allow our University to compete for an offshore wind project. The current version of this bill chooses the Norwegian oil company Statoil over our University. While it is the PUC’s decision to specifically award contracts, the Governor supports evaluating whether we can utilize the subsidy that will maximize the economic benefits to the State of Maine. The University of Maine should be given that option and if they are chosen by the PUC as being the best option for our economy, the Governor supports this research and development.”

But moments after the veto was signed, the House reconvened and voted 121-11 to override the veto. It next goes before the Senate, who had adjourned for the evening when the bill passed the House and as such, were unable to immediately take it up themselves. Democratic leaders issued statements, which are posted below.

Senate President Justin Alfond:

    “This is yet another example of one man standing in the way of progress for the entire state. This in a historic bill with critically important elements that would have helped Maine families and kept Maine’s industrial and commercial facilities competitive. This is a bill that has garnered broad support from people on both sides of the aisle and instead of supporting what’s best for our state, the Governor has yet again resorted to getting in the way of progress for Maine. With this bill, Maine could have seen huge reductions in our energy costs, saved an additional $365 million, and jump-started thousands of Mainers on the path of making cost effective home energy improvements. Unfortunately the people of Maine have suffered the consequences of the Governor’s games.”

Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall:

    “The Governor has made it clear that he is trying to undo a signed agreement between Statoil and the PUC, a contract that would bring millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to Maine. This isn’t just politics at its worst, it’s business at its worst. The Governor has jeopardized crucial energy policy for Maine and is attempting to close the door on a multi-million dollar investment by an international company.”

It should be noted that the Senate originally passed LD 1559 by a 28-7 vote. Here is the Governor’s veto letter for LD 1559.

Also before the Legislature are the stack of bills (PDF warning) on the special Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee table; ie, the bills deemed to have expenses added to them that before enactment, need to be figured out as far as potential costs and financial impacts. As there are 32 pages’ worth and well over 100 bills, there is no way yet of knowing how many will be dealt with tomorrow or which ones will be set aside for the second half of the session.

So, now we wait!

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Maine House Floor Debates, Passes LD 1113 Buffett Rule Bill; Senate Votes to Indef Postpone (VIDEOS)

Posted on June 25, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Among the many bills taken up during the last whirlwind that was last week’s legislative session was House Majority Leader Seth Berry’s sponsored LD 1333, “An Act To Provide Tax Fairness to Maine’s Middle Class and Working Families”, aka the Buffett rule bill.

LD 1113 Sponsor House Majority Leader Seth Beth (D-Bowdoinham) Speaks To His Bill

From his prepared testimony:

    “LD 1113 would apply the logic of the “Buffett Rule” on Maine’s state and local tax code. As you know, the Buffett Rule is a concept named for the wealthy investor Warren Buffet, who famously said his secretary should not be required to pay higher taxes than he pays.

    According to Maine Revenue Services, Maine’s secretaries- and truck drivers, and child care workers- are now paying higher taxes than their bosses. It is time for this to stop. It is time to reduce taxes on those who pay the most, and equalize them for those paying too little.

    At present, a mother of two, working full-time at minimum wage, pays, nearly twice as much per dollar of income as a person making $1 million a year. This is due to the regressive nature of property and sales taxes, as well as the “stacking” of income tax credits, exemptions and deductions by a select few.

    LD 1113 would correct this inequality. Through its credit mechanism, it would actually cut taxes for hundreds of thousands of middle and working class families. More immediately, the bill as amended would fully restore revenue sharing.

(NOTE: LD 1113 would have worked in addition to restoring the municipality revenue sharing portion not covered by LD 1509, the biannual budget vetoed by Governor LePage yesterday. ~AP).

IMG_4857

    Does equalization add complexity? Absolutely not. In fact, by simplifying the Circuit Breaker and incorporating it into the tax return, LD 1113 can actually reduce paperwork for hundreds of thousands of families, and add only 3 or 4 lines for the few making over $350,000.

    Are the wealthy already taxed enough? In some cases, yes. In fact, the average Maine household in the 95th to 98th percentile pays more than average already. That is why LD 1113 proposes an individualized equalization test, only for those in the top 1 percent.

    The questions LD 1113 poses to you are politic, economic and moral.

    Politically, a Maine Buffett Rule is supported by 4 in 5 voters. A national Buffett Rule is supported by Maine’s entire tripartisan Congressional delegation, including Senator Susan Collins. Can we stand with Maine people and with our entire U.S. delegation- or can’t we?

    Economically, research shows that fair taxes assist growth. When the struggling full-time worker has a little more money in her pocket, businesses like mine have more customers. Work is rewarded and productivity increases. Do we want a thriving economy and middle class- or don’t we?

    Morally, Maine people have always believed that we should each do our fair share, as we are able. Yet at present, our overall code is very unfair. Will we be the Legislature that asked each Mainer to do their fair share- or won’t we?

    With your leadership on this issue, I believe we can, we do, and we will.

    Thank you.

IMG_4851The House then voted to pass the bill, 88-51. But when it was the Senate’s turn, that body unanimously decided to table LD 1113 with a indefinite postponement vote that passed under the hammer. The House Democrats were quick to send out a press release, which read in part:

    The Senate early Thursday morning failed to pass a Buffett Rule for Maine that would have restored revenue sharing for communities and provided tax breaks for the middle class.

    “The Senate failed Maine’s middle class and local property taxpayers today. They had a chance to embrace tax fairness and prevent a property tax hike with this measure,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, the bill’s lead sponsor. “These are issues many of us campaigned on. How can they face their constituents after breaking these promises?”

    “We have yet another situation here where the House has done good bipartisan work only to see it undermined by the Senate,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan, a cosponsor of the bill.

    Starting in the two-year period beginning July 1, the measure would add approximately $75 million to the revenue-sharing system between the state and municipalities, thanks to an amendment from Rep. Michael Carey, D-Lewiston.

    The governor’s budget would have eliminated revenue sharing, but the bipartisan budget passed by the Legislature would restore two-thirds of it. The amendment from Carey, a member of the budget-writing committee, fully restores revenue sharing to its current levels.

    “On the Appropriations Committee, we worked hard to blunt the tax shift to local property taxpayers in the governor’s budget. We were able to get two-thirds of the way to full restoration but not any further until this amendment was added to the measure,” Carey said. “Property taxes are the most regressive of our taxes and hit our middle class particularly hard.”

Here are the remainder of the videos from the House floor debate, in order of speakers.

Rep. Gary Knight (R-Livermore Falls) speaks against LD 1113 (Pt 1)

Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) Speaks Against LD 1113 (Pt 1)

Rep. Joe Brooks (U-Winterport) Speaks for LD 1113

Rep Adam Goode (D-Bangor) Speaks in Support of LD 1113

Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz (D-Orono) Speaks in Support of LD 1113

Rep Mike Carey (D-Lewiston) Speaks in Support of LD 1113

Rep Gary Knight poses question on LD 1113

Rep Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan), Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) Speak in Favor of LD 1113

Question of Rep Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner), Answer by Rep Berry on LD 1113

Rep Peter Stuckey (D-Portland) speaks in favor of LD 1113

Rep Roger Jackson (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1113

Rep Mike Carey (D-Lewiston) answers question on LD 1113

Rep Justin Chenette (D-Saco) Speaks in Strong Support of LD 1113

Rep Keschl (R-Belgrade) Rises Again in Opposition to LD 1113

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Maine Senate Debate on LD 1509, FY 14-15 Biannual Budget (June 13 VIDEOS)

Posted on June 24, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

As expected, today Governor Paul LePage vetoed the budget, aka LD 1509, “An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015”. On Wednesday, the 126th Legislature will reconvene to take it up in both chambers, along with a slew of other matters including ten bills vetoed late Friday and others today.

Here is the full list of Governor LePage’s vetoes of bills passed by the 126th Legislature.

IMG_4584When the Senate met the evening of June 13th to take up the budget, those who worked on the budget praised their fellow Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee members from across the aisle, their staff and clerks, for working so hard together to create a budget that, per Senator Pat Flood (R-Kennebec), won unanimous approval by the entire AFA Committee on every single line item of the 680 page document, individually and as a whole.

And as the votes were tallied, it showed that same as in the House (102-43, 6 absent) earlier, the Senate had passed the measure (25-10) with a super majority strong enough to sustain a veto from the Governor.

    “Lawmakers did the right thing by passing a budget that allows the state of Maine to keep working,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “In divided government, Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature worked together to pass a responsible budget that protects our schools, our property owners, and small businesses.”

Here are videos taken of the Senate LD 1509 floor debate, in order of speakers.

Appropriations Chair Sen. Dawn Hill (D-York) urges support for LD 1509, FY 14-15 Budget

    “As a committee and as a Legislature, we left politics at the door. We rolled up our sleeves and worked together to craft a responsible, bipartisan budget for the people of Maine,” said Senator Dawn Hill of York, the Senate Chair of the committee. “This is what we are expected to do. And I’m proud of our ability to work together despite our differences.”

Sen. Pat Flood (R-Kennebec) Speaks in Support of LD 1509, FY 14-15 Budget

Sen. Emily Cain (D-Penobscot) Speaks in Support of LD 1509, FY 14-15 Budget


    “This is a tough budget, but it is fair, and passing this budget is the right thing to do,”
    said Senator Emily Cain of Orono.

Asst Majority Leader Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Speaks in Support of FY 14-15 Budget, LD 1509

    “This is not a perfect budget. But it is a budget that reflects the spirit of compromise and getting things done for the people of our state,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “This is the best compromise that I have ever been a part of and reflects how this Legislature is supposed to work.”

Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) speaks in opposition to LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau Speaks in Opposition to LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) speaks in opposition to LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

Asst Minority Leader Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) speaks in support of LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall (D-Sagadahoc) Speaks in support of LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

    “Every two years we take a vote that is perhaps one of the most challenging. It requires us to set aside our philosophical differences and do what is right by looking ahead to our future,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “This budget makes public education stronger and finally acknowledges the public service and dedication of our state employees.”

And now we wait.

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