Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) Gives Powerful Floor Speech on GA/ FY ’16/17 Budget

Posted on June 19, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

    I believe every person in this Chamber is a proud American. Our ancestors come from different places; practice different faiths; eat different meals. But we share one nation and one set of ideals. We share a belief in the greatness of our country. A belief that what makes us a great nation isn’t our sameness, but our diversity. Today in the hallways of this magnificent building we saw some of Maine’s diversity. There were people here who came from Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo Brazza-ville, Djibouti, Mauritania, Rwanda, Somalia.

    They hail from the continent of my ancestors, who did not come to these shores by choice. Ancestors who did not come to these shores fleeing anything. Still, I love America more than any other country on earth, and I wish to be nowhere else.

    It has already been quoted, but I am going to quote it again:

      Give me your tired, your poor,

      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

      I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

    I am certain, Mr. Speaker, that every person here, every person listening or watching online, knows that those closing lines from Emma Lazarus’ 1883 sonnet “The New Colossus” are emblazoned on a bronze plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, placed there in 1903.

    We are a nation of immigrants.

    Let us never forget.

    DSC_0093As Thomas Jefferson challenges us, “Shall we refuse the unhappy fugitives from distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?”

    We are a nation of immigrants.

    Let us be reminded by the international community through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for which the United States voted, that “[e]veryone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

    We are a nation of immigrants.

    Let us never forget.

    Throughout this conversation, we have heard arguments such as: “We can’t even afford to take care of our own; we can’t help our disadvantaged, our elderly, and our infirm, so we can’t help them.” I say, Why not? Why can’t we? From the long perspective of human history, from before the times of the Pharaohs to now, in the wealthiest nation ever to exist on the earth, can we really cry poverty in good faith?

    Throughout this conversation, we have heard fears like this: “They don’t look like us. They don’t speak our language. They worship differently than we do. They have strange ways. They can’t be trusted. They just come here to take from us, to pick our pockets, and live off the dole.”

    If we haven’t walked in their shoes, then who are we to judge them?

    Mr. Speaker, women and men of the house, have we forgotten what makes us human? How have we forgotten what makes us humane? Have we forgotten the purpose of our government?

    DSC_0100Our purpose for existing, the principles that guide our work in this Chamber, are laid out in our State Constitution. We have formed the government of the State of Maine “to establish justice, insure tranquility … promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty.” Is not the welfare of all God’s children our “common welfare”? Isn’t treating all of our residents with fairness and equality indeed “justice”? Isn’t our responsibility to truly secure the blessings of liberty for those who have sought refuge among us, fleeing tyranny and civil war?

    It breaks my heart that we are even having this debate.

    I will quote a passage from “The Fire Next Time,” by James Baldwin:

      “Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death – ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.”

    And so in facing the conundrum of life in this debate, I am going to flip the script. I am not going to call them immigrants, or asylum seekers, or legal non-citizens. I am going to call them exactly what they are: human beings seeking a better life in the greatest country on earth.

    How can we in good conscience vote to throw decent human beings out onto the streets because our sometimes cold and insensitive language around “welfare cheats and illegals” has been repeated so often we have lost our ability to see the human beings behind the labels?

    As Martin Luther King said, “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”

    In order to live with my conscience, I cannot, ought not, will not vote against human beings who need our help. I cannot, ought not, will not pit them against other human beings who need our help. And I cannot, ought not, will not fear what happens at the ballot box in the next election.

    Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, no matter the outcome on this conundrum, this amendment, this vote that we are about to take here this afternoon, I pledge to work with anyone in this Chamber to make sure that our state is more welcoming to young families; more welcoming to people who don’t look like most of us; more welcoming to people from different lands and other countries. And, yes, more welcoming to human beings fleeing the terrible places where life can be found, human beings whose toughness and resilience and ambition will make us a better state now and in the future.

    Brilliantly blessed are those who create Unity out of vast Diversity, for they will experience Heaven on Earth.

    Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, let us remember who we are. Let us follow the light of the golden lamp of Lady Liberty and vote to pass this amendment.

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FULL VIDEO: Maine Governor Paul LePage Blaine House Press Conference (5/29/15)

Posted on June 11, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Shared without comment.

    (media advisory)

    Maine Governor Paul LePage News Conference on PUC, Income Tax Removal & Budget

    Governor Paul R. LePage will hold a news conference today to discuss several issues, including tax reform and the biennial budget, which the 127th Maine Legislature currently is considering.

    When: 1:00 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2015

    Where: Blaine House, Augusta

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(UPDATED W/VIDEO) Governor LePage Holds Town Hall in Lisbon

Posted on June 2, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Audio links here in two parts.

DSC_0009Some quick reactions while the town hall was ongoing:

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Maine Democrats Hold Better Deal Town Hall in Brunswick (VIDEOS)

Posted on May 7, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

alfFrom the event page (photos here):

    Join House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond for the third town hall meeting on the Better Deal for Maine plan. The Better Deal for Maine rejects Governor Paul LePage’s trickle-down economics. It is a tax reform plan that grows the economy from the middle out, not the top down. It cuts taxes for the middle class, lowers property taxes for all Maine homeowners and invests in Maine schools, workers and communities.

    Read the full plan here: http://betterdeal.me/

Below are the videos of the full event, held at the UU Church in Brunswick last night. Attendance was high and the questions ranged from the Democrats’ plan to other issues being weighed in the Legislature and Augusta currently. Unlike the Governor’s events, neither the questions nor people asking them were not screened before speaking.

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LePage, Democrats Continue to Push Their Tax Plans

Posted on April 16, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Maine Governor Paul LePage used April 15 aka “Tax Day” to hold a press conference attacking Democrats’ “Better Deal for Maine Plan”, continue to push his tax reform plan as part of the FY 2016-7 budget, and unveil via the right wing national organization American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) an “online tax calculator” for the state, designed to provide what theoretically Mainers would pay for taxes under the LePage proposal. Via media advisory:

    Governor Paul R. LePage will announce the launch of a new online calculator on “Tax Day,” Wednesday, April 15. The new calculator will provide Maine taxpayers an opportunity to compare tax rates and credits under current law to the Governor’s tax reform and savings plan, which the Legislature now is considering.

    In addition to the launch of the calculator, the American Legislative Exchange Council will join the Governor to release its 8th edition of “Rich States, Poor States.” The new data focuses on specific policy choices throughout the 50 states that have led to prosperity in some states and caused others to fall behind in economic growth.

The governor took the opportunity to blast individual Democrats by name, including all members of leadership.

Afterwards, Speaker of the House Mark Eves held his own press conference to respond.

Tonight, Governor LePage will hold another public town hall meeting to discuss his budget and tax reforms, this time in Ellsworth. Next week, Democrats will start to hold their own town halls, with the first scheduled to be in Bangor on Wednesday.

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Democratic Leaders Unveil ‘Better Deal for Maine’ Plan

Posted on April 16, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Last Thursday’s press release read in part:

Top Democratic leaders in the State House on Thursday countered Gov. Paul LePage’s budget with their plan to grow the economy from the middle out rather than the top down.

Speaker Mark Eves, Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond, House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe and Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon announced the plan at Cony High School, which is in a school district that could see a $1 million cut in funding if the governor’s budget passes.

The Better Deal for Maine:

  • Puts more money in the pockets of Maine families: Cuts property taxes by $120 million annually for Maine residents by doubling the Homestead Exemption for all Maine homeowners and by increasing the Property Tax Fairness Credit by more than $57 million per year.
  • Invests in Maine’s future: Bolsters investment in Maine students, workers and seniors. Increases funding for K-12 education by $20 million per year.
  • Prevents property tax hikes: Increases revenue sharing to $80 million each year for local services like police, fire, and public works, while rejecting the governor’s new taxes on non-profits.
  • Targets income tax cuts for the middle class: Cuts income taxes by hundreds of dollars for the vast majority of Maine families while asking the wealthiest 5 percent to pay their fair share. Under the Better Deal for Maine, 98 percent of income tax cuts go to the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers. Under the governor’s plan, 50 percent of the tax break goes to the top 10 percent.
  • Is fiscally responsible: Unlike the governor’s budget, the Better Deal for Maine is fully paid for now and into the future.
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Entire Video Footage of Governor Paul LePage’s Saco Town Hall (2nd Camera)

Posted on April 6, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Here from a second camera is the entire town hall Governor Paul LePage conducted at Thornton Academy in Saco last week.

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(UPDATED) Former Biddeford Mayor Joanne Twomey Ejected from LePage Saco Town Hall

Posted on April 2, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

UPDATE: Here is video of Twomey and the governor (starting at 1:50 mark; added more for context), as well as her being removed from Thornton Academy’s auditorium by security.

Full video of the event is now posted.

————-

A rather remarkable ending to Maine Governor Paul LePage’s latest town hall meeting, as he attempts to garner public support for his proposed biennial budget FY 2016-7. Videos of the entire evening will be shared later on, but as was reported earlier tonight, the entire event was brought to a screeching halt as former 4 term Repesentative and Biddeford Mayor Joanne Twomey, after exchanging heated words with LePage, apparently attempted to throw a container of Vaseline at him.

Gov. Paul LePage’s budget presentation at Thornton Academy in Saco came to an abrupt end when former Democratic state Rep. Joanne T. Twomey of Biddeford confronted the governor, according to multiple social media reports.

According to social media reports, Twomey “threw a jar of Vaseline” toward the governor. Twomey reportedly was escorted from the meeting by security. A CBS 13 video shows Twomey throwing something on the stage, which did not strike LePage, as she was escorted from the building. The item was quickly retrieved by what appeared to be security personnel.

Not much of a “throw”…

I spoke with Twomey afterwards and asked if she wanted to issue a statement:

Former Biddeford Mayor Twomey post town hall #mepolitics

A post shared by Andi Parkinson (@andiparkinson) on

Some members of the audience later came up to Twomey to check on her, as she was “roughed up” a bit by security.

Former Rep Joanne Twomey speaking w/supporters outside Saco's Thornton Academy #mepolitics

A post shared by Andi Parkinson (@andiparkinson) on

To be updated.

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(UPDATED) LePage: “Gloves Are Off”, “Disgusted” by Legislators, Claims Lawmakers “Weak on Drugs”

Posted on March 31, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

UPDATE: The video is now posted online. As the man himself says, “Here we are again.”

————–

A fiery Governor Paul LePage held a press conference this morning to blast lawmakers over the course of the past 5 years for the current drug epidemic within the state, as his administration attempts to sway public opinion to support his FY 2016-17 biennial budget.

From an earlier media advisory:

    In the biennial budget now being considered by legislators, Governor Paul R. LePage has included funding for four new District Court Judges within the Judicial Branch, seven Investigative Agents in the Department of Public Safety and four Assistant Attorney General positions within the Office of the Attorney General.

    The budget initiative provides Maine with additional resources to combat the State’s growing drug problem. Combined with treatment and recovery, funding for these critical positions is also needed to stem the increased threat to public safety and to the health of Mainers.

Audio here (video being uploaded) of the press conference.

The following data was handed out by Maine Public Safety Commissioner John Morris to media.

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(UPDATED x2) Governor LePage Forgets Wife’s 2nd Florida Home While Attacking Other Mainers For Having Same

Posted on March 19, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

A second 3/19/15 UPDATE, as Governor LePage’s office this morning sent out a revised version of the weekly address eliminating his swipe at Maine residents and private citizens Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby. The following bolded message from press secretary Adrienne Bennett accompanied the latest version:

    “Correction: Please see the attached revised version of this week’s message. Please use this audio file in future broadcasts. Thank you.”

Here is the updated weekly address as sent out today (AUDIO LINK).

    Radio Address: Eliminating the Income Tax Means a Pay Raise for Hardworking Mainers

    March 19, 2015

    (Photo by Jim Bowdoin, provided by Governor LePage's office)

    (Photo by Jim Bowdoin, provided by Governor LePage’s office)

    Forty-six years ago Democratic Governor Ken Curtis championed a controversial state income tax. So it began; Mainer’s paychecks were raided to pay for bigger government.

    Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

    In 1969, the income tax barely survived the Legislature, and today $1.2 billion dollars is taken from hardworking Mainers through income tax.

    Nearly fifty years later, we are trying to return money back to Mainers, but it’s not without a major battle. This week, Democratic Representative Adam Goode of Bangor opposed our plan saying it only benefits the rich.

    However, his definition of rich is interesting. Most Maine businesses are pass through entities meaning many of those earning 400-thousand dollars are actually small businesses owners. These are the businesses that create jobs and invest these tax cuts creating career opportunities.

    Also, what Rep. Goode fails to mention is that 653-thousand working Mainers pay over one billion dollars – 1.2 billion to be exact – in income taxes.

    Our plan returns that money back to working Mainers. Starting next year, Mainers will receive $238 million annually back in taxes and that number increases to $300 million in four years.

    Our plan helps those earning lower incomes, too. We’ve set aside $60 Million to the neediest Mainers through the Sales Tax Fairness Credit and the Property Tax Fairness Credit. These tax credits are available only to those of more limited means.

    The Property Tax Fairness Credit will help Mainers with their property taxes. We’ve doubled the amount of money available to Mainers under 65 and with limited incomes. We have also tripled the amount of money available through the Homestead Exemption. This tax credit helps Mainers over 65 to lower their property taxes.

    Another way we help folks with lower incomes is by providing a tax credit toward the sales tax. Those with limited incomes will be eligible for this tax credit.

    For Representative Goode to claim this plan benefits the rich is an insult to Bangor residents who pay the state nearly $29 million in annual income tax. If you really look at how this plan works you will see it modernizes our tax code so the majority of Mainers are keeping what they earn.

    Don’t be fooled by rhetoric. I encourage you to attend one of our upcoming town hall meetings to learn the facts.

    You can also call your legislator to tell them you support eliminating the income tax. Legislators are working on the budget now and they must hear from you.

    Meanwhile, remember who introduced the income tax here in Maine? Well, today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax.

    Thanks for listening.

—–

3/19/15 UPDATE: Bumping yesterday’s post to the top of the page, as Maine author and long-time Bangor resident Stephen King has responded to Governor LePage.

    king“Governor LePage is full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green. Tabby and I pay every cent of our Maine state income taxes, and are glad to do it. We feel, as Governor LePage apparently does not, that much is owed from those to whom much has been given. We see our taxes as a way of paying back the state that has given us so much. State taxes pay for state services. There’s just no way aRound it. Governor LePage needs to remember there ain’t no free lunch.”

—–

(Originally posted 3/18/15)

Interesting lil weekly address here today by Maine Governor Paul LePage (emphasis mine):

Eliminating the Income Tax Means a Pay Raise for Hardworking Mainers

    Eliminating the Income Tax Means a Pay Raise for Hardworking Mainers

    Forty-six years ago Democratic Governor Ken Curtis championed a controversial state income tax. So it began; Mainer’s paychecks were raided to pay for bigger government.

    Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

    In 1969, the income tax barely survived the Legislature, and today $1.2 billion dollars is taken from hardworking Mainers through income tax.

    Nearly fifty years later, we are trying to return money back to Mainers, but it’s not without a major battle.

    This week, Democratic Representative Adam Goode of Bangor opposed our plan saying it only benefits the rich.

    Governor LePage speaks to audience at Auburn tax reform town hall.

    Governor LePage speaks to audience at Auburn tax reform town hall.

    However, his definition of rich is interesting. Most Maine businesses are pass through entities meaning many of those earning 400-thousand dollars are actually small businesses owners. These are the businesses that create jobs and invest these tax cuts creating career opportunities.

    Also, what Rep. Goode fails to mention is that 653-thousand working Mainers pay over one billion dollars – 1.2 billion to be exact – in income taxes.

    Our plan returns that money back to working Mainers. Starting next year, Mainers will receive $238 million annually back in taxes and that number increases to $300 million in four years
    .
    Our plan helps those earning lower incomes, too. We’ve set aside $60 Million to the neediest Mainers through the Sales Tax Fairness Credit and the Property Tax Fairness Credit. These tax credits are available only to those of more limited means.

    The Property Tax Fairness Credit will help Mainers with their property taxes. We’ve doubled the amount of money available to Mainers under 65 and with limited incomes.

    We have also tripled the amount of money available through the Homestead Exemption. This tax credit helps Mainers over 65 to lower their property taxes.

    Dozens attended LePage's 3/11/15 town hall held in Auburn to hear what the governor had to say about his budget and tax reform.

    Dozens attended LePage’s 3/11/15 town hall held in Auburn to hear what the governor had to say about his budget and tax reform.

    Another way we help folks with lower incomes is by providing a tax credit toward the sales tax. Those with limited incomes will be eligible for this tax credit.

    For Representative Goode to claim this plan benefits the rich is an insult to Bangor residents who pay the state nearly $29 million in annual income tax. If you really look at how this plan works you will see it modernizes our tax code so the majority of Mainers are keeping what they earn.

    Don’t be fooled by rhetoric. I encourage you to attend one of our upcoming town hall meetings to learn the facts.

    You can also call your legislator to tell them you support eliminating the income tax. Legislators are working on the budget now and they must hear from you.

    Meanwhile, remember who introduced the income tax here in Maine. Well, today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax. Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby have moved away, as well.

    Thanks for listening.

Oopsie! Has the governor so soon forgotten his wife, First Lady Ann LePage is a snowbird, too?

Or that in 2010, Mrs. LePage had to pay a hefty fine to the State of Florida, for claiming permanent residency in both states?

Awkward…

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

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