With most voters focused on the economy and our nation’s crippling $16 trillion debt, it’s no wonder independent Angus King is bristling at the discussion of his fiscal record as governor. King was a good cheerleader for Maine, but his fiscal management record shows he lacked the discipline to make decisions that would positively affect Maine over the long run.
King has been roundly criticized for leaving the state of Maine with a $1.2 billion projected deficit at the end of his term. King’s new advertisement has him looking sternly into the camera and proclaiming “There was no deficit.” But a simple review of the public record shows King is wrong.
His successor, Gov. John Baldacci, said in his inaugural speech: “State spending is out of line with state revenues, creating a billion-dollar deficit.” In his 2006 Democratic Convention speech, he said, “When I entered the Blaine House, coming out of the recession, we had a $1.2 billion budget deficit.” And in a 2006 debate, Baldacci said, “When I became governor we had a $1.2 billion shortfall and the highest tax burden in the nation.”
Reporters have also detailed King’s deficit, over and over. In 2010, a Maine newspaper reported that Baldacci “inherited a $1.2 billion budget deficit when he took office in 2003.” Twice this year, a MaineToday Media fact-checker reviewed the billion-dollar deficit claim and pronounced, “ The numbers check out.”
King has argued about the use of the term “deficit” to describe the projected shortfall at the end of his term because Maine requires a balanced budget. Clearly, King’s political opponents are not the first to use the term. Whether described as a deficit or structural gap, which assumes the state will meet all its legal expenditure requirements, the bottom line is that Baldacci needed to cut spending to deal with the fiscal state of Maine that King handed him.
We have to look at the actions our next senator will take in Washington. Our nation is $16 trillion in debt, and we’re spending more than $1 trillion a year more than we’re bringing in. The most pressing duty of our next senator will be to break this pattern. We need to reduce spending, reduce the debt and get government out of the way, so our small businesses can thrive again.
I want to be Maine’s next senator so I can stand up for our future generations. I believe the choice next week is clear, and I humbly ask for your support Tuesday.
Republican Charlie Summers is a candidate for U.S. Senate.