New bills would put Maine people in charge

By Mike Thibodeau, Special to the BDN
Posted Oct. 28, 2010, at 7:21 p.m.

There’s something missing in government — you. Career politicians and special interests have blocked the people’s influence. Regular folks just don’t have enough say over the policies that impact families and communities. That’s wrong, and it cannot continue.

You need to be put back in charge of your government. It begins with the very first three bills I will submit.

The first is The Tax Check Act. In the last two years, Maine voters have used the people’s veto to overturn two tax increases rammed through the Legislature. The first, repealed last year, raised taxes on doctor visits and beverages. The second, repealed in June, raised taxes on meals, lodging and more than 100 new services.

But you shouldn’t have to rely on the people’s veto to have a check on government. You should automatically have a say. The Tax Check Act requires voter approval for every tax hike passed in Augusta. It’s your government and your money. You decide.

When people are put in charge of taxes, politicians will have to control government spending. That’s because Maine people understand what career politicians don’t: Mainers cannot afford more taxes to fund big government.

There may be times when elected officials think a tax increase is necessary. That’s up to you. Under the Tax Check Act, politicians will have to make their case before they can raise your taxes.

I trust you to make the best decisions about how government taxes and spends your money. The Tax Check Act guarantees you that right.

The second is The Debt Check Act. It’s time to take the credit card away. Politicians have borrowed too much, and they expect you to pay their debts. That’s why I will submit The Debt Check Act, because you should have the right to vote on all borrowing.

Maine voters have approved some debt at the polls. That borrowing, known as general obligation bonds, amounts to about $700 million of our total debt. But that’s just a fraction. Most debt has never been approved by voters at all, yet politicians still expect you and your family to pay.

Debt that has not been voter-approved now totals nearly $11 billion. That’s because government agencies like the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, the Maine State Housing Authority, the Finance Authority of Maine and the Government Facilities Authority have unchecked power to borrow without your vote — even though it’s your money politicians will take to pay that debt.

If politicians want you and your family to pay their debts, you should decide if they can keep borrowing.

The third is The Bill Check Act. Laws should not be passed in the shadows. The Bill Check Act requires every bill and amendment be posted online for at least 72 hours before action by the Legislature.

With The Bill Check Act, you have time to read any proposed laws that impact your family and community. That way, you can voice your opinion to elected officials, ask questions or even rally friends and family to influence the outcome.

No last-minute hearings, middle-of-the-night votes or surprise amendments. The Bill Check Act ensures you can have the knowledge and information to better engage your government.

The age of government secrecy must end. The Tax Check Act, The Debt Check Act and The Bill Check Act are my immediate priorities and the first steps toward real government accountability.

Government will never hold itself accountable. It’s up to the people to do that, which is why the people must be put back in charge. That’s why I’m running for state Senate and why I will submit these three bills right away.

Mike Thibodeau of Winterport represents District 42 in the Maine House. He is the Republican candidate for Senate District 23, which encompasses Waldo County.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/10/28/opinion/new-bills-would-put-maine-people-in-charge/ printed on July 12, 2014