Both sides now
Gov. LePage believes that “buying a Maine daily newspaper is like paying someone to lie to you,” as he cleverly quoted an unnamed state representative (BDN, March 4).
I must object. The Bangor Daily News is careful to provide both sides of any story involving the governor. First the BDN reports what the governor said. Then the paper reports what his aides say he meant.
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Gov. LePage is like a bull in a china shop, thrashing around, cutting programs that help the needy like Dirigo, school systems that try to educate our children and health regulations that protect everyone.
During his campaign, he was always talking about helping the people of Maine. I do not think that is his agenda. He is trying to pay back the out-of-state corporations that funded his campaign. What percent of the vote did he get?
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Teachers not to blame
As a retired teacher, I believe the tone of the current debate is not helpful in solving our fiscal crisis. History is repeating itself. Twenty years ago during similar circumstances the state raised the retirement age, increased our mandatory contribution, raised the penalty for early retirement and borrowed from the pension fund to balance the budget.
Teachers do not receive full Social Security benefits, older teachers never paid into Medicare and we pay 55 percent of our health insurance. As a result a large percentage of our benefit goes to taxes and health insurance. My net-earnings are $1,063 a month.
It saddens me to see teachers blamed for the ills that afflict our society from student learning to the current fiscal crisis. Teachers go to work every day giving their best in a changing society that seems to value entertainment over education, personal gratification over personal responsibility and constantly changing rules from the government.
We need to sit down and talk to solve our problems. We need to compromise and model civility and understanding. We need to make sure older retired teachers receive the benefits they earned and show that we learned the life lessons they tried to teach us.
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‘Right to shirk’ bills
The union-busting movement that began in Wisconsin has reached the state of Maine in the form of LD 788 and LD 309.
The bills are incorrectly called “Right to Work” but should be called “Right to Shirk.” This bill is unfair to hardworking Mainers and will greatly lower the standard of living for thousands of families here in our great state.
Many union employers negotiate with unions to include in their contract a security clause which requires all employees to pay their fair share of protecting their rights under the labor agreement. While everyone may not support the union and their activities, I am sure they support the higher wages and better benefits the union negotiates for them.
Unions by law are required to represent all employees, not only members. No one is forced to join the union, and while they are required to pay a small fee for representation, none of their money goes to political activities or organizing fees.
I find it ironic that during the Boston Tea Party cries of “Taxation without representation” could be heard. Now, LD 788 and LD 309 will give freeloaders representation without taxation!
It is time to stop wasting time on legislation that does nothing to move the state of Maine forward. I am interested in seeing our elected officials create family wage jobs, not undermine workers and threaten the jobs we already have.
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Reasons to be informed
A healthy economy is essential to the well-being of the state, and jobs are a critical factor in the equation. Unfortunately, a misinformed Legislature being led by the LePage administration, the Maine Heritage Policy Center (the administration’s unelected brain), Walmart and others, are considering repealing the Informed Growth Act.
There was a time when being informed meant being able to make thoughtful and wise decisions. Now, it’s being assailed for being a job-killer. An honest explanation of the bill would show that it is intended to impact only big box stores. Data shows that while these stores do provide jobs, they destroy local businesses.
Statistics show big box stores take profits out of state; they do little to support a local economy. They usually pay minimal low-wage salaries. Many employees still need public support in one form or another. The law was not to stop development but to allow communities to make an “informed” decision on whether they really would benefit from big box stores.
Local businesses have an investment in a community; they hire, bank and live local. Do we all need a Walmart right down the road or can some communities maintain the right to not
have one in their town? This really is the issue before the Legislature in repealing the Informed Growth Act.
If the Legislature is serious about the economy, it should spend its time wisely creating incentives and favorable business environment to maintain viable Maine businesses for the benefit of the state.
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For more than a decade, community services have been battered and cut in Maine. The job losses likely exceed 8,000 jobs with retirement benefits slashed or eliminated. If the BDN chose to make ten calls to community agencies, it would see how services and jobs have shrunk. More cuts are coming.
The BDN headline blares, “Cuts put addict programs at risk.” Fine article, but where’s the in-depth investigation as to why? The editorial page often points to the 1,000 or more “reduction in state jobs.” There’s a major difference between cutting an empty state position and cutting a state employee.
A few years ago, the Departments of Mental Health and Human Services merged with little or no job loss. At that same time, hundreds of jobs were cut in community services. No media picked that story up. Again,why?
Why not level the playing field for all? Why not cut services last, and cut all inequities first? Why does the state provide non-inpatient services that are the same or similar in the community at much higher salaries, with pensions and with different regulations such as those easier to meet?
Community-service cuts only lead to more costly use of restrictive alternatives. This dumb public policy only leads to less services for those at high risk.
Joe Pickering Jr.