Saturday, March 16, 2013: Hospitals, drug testing and schools

Posted March 15, 2013, at 11:02 a.m.
Last modified March 15, 2013, at 5:01 p.m.

Hospital revenues

As a mayor whose city is facing a loss of more than $2.5 million in revenue sharing, teacher retirement costs and other assorted state responsibilities being passed on to us, I am concerned about the proposed budget and about the governor’s proposal to dedicate a major portion of liquor revenues to repaying the state’s hospital debt.

While I support a renegotiation of the liquor contract to achieve the best financial return for Maine, and I believe the hospitals should be paid, I cannot support tying the two issues together.

The governor’s budget eliminates revenue sharing, flat funds the schools and passes on teacher retirement expenses, all of which are merely a shift of responsibility from the state government to the backs of the local property taxpayers.

It is my hope that the Legislature will consider all of the state’s obligations, not just the payments to hospitals, when it decides what to do with liquor revenues generated by a more favorable contract.

Property taxpayers are still waiting for the state to live up to its mandated responsibilities of 5 percent of the sales and income tax revenues for revenue sharing and 55 percent for local education.

I urge our legislators to look at all options for revenue, including a lodging tax, a repeal of the income tax passed last session, a more equitable income tax structure and-or a temporary hike in the sales tax similar to that passed into law by Republican Gov. John McKernan. All of these are more fair ways of taxation than shifting the state’s responsibilities onto local property taxpayers.

Karen Heck, mayor

Waterville

Who is everyone else?

In response to Rep. Paulette Beaudoin’s bill to drug test Maine residents who receive general assistance or welfare, she is so quick to stigmatize Maine people on welfare and people who receive general assistance. This was particularly true when she made the statement, “They should be drug tested like everyone else.”

Who is everyone else? Drug testing is an expensive cost to the state, and who is going to pay to test these people on welfare?

Say we cut off general assistance to criminals who are getting out of prison, they then go commit another crime because they have no home or food when they are released after paying their dues to society for their crimes?

I have an idea, let’s test state officials for drug use. Maine’s drug problem is everywhere, not just with welfare people but with lawyers, doctors, elderly and everywhere within the state. Why not just drug test every Maine resident while we’re at it?

Ray Spann

Bangor

Living with multiple sclerosis

I would like to acknowledge my niece Gail Kelly for being recognized as a “Congressional Staff Person of the Year” at the National MS Society’s 22nd policy conference in Washington, D.C. She was the first state district staff person to receive the reward.

Prior to the award, she was director of patient and community advocacy at Penobscot Community Health Care, state director for Sen. Olympia Snowe for more than 30 years and mayor of Brewer for two terms. She was also the president of and board member for other positions too numerous to mention here.

I have had two children with multiple sclerosis — my daughter who died after more than 17 years of living with MS, and my son now living with MS for nearly 25 years. They are both first cousins to Gail who herself has endured MS for many years.

Gail has made me proud of her acceptance with the dreadful disease, her will power and efforts in the care she has given to our community.

Carolyn D. Coleman

Bangor

Get act together

Great “Contempt of Congress” letter to the editor by Bradford Ingerson on March 13. Anything for the American people, schools, working families, mentally challenged and senior citizens seems to be on the chopping block, but every day, millions of dollars are sent overseas for just about every country in the world.

We declare war on a country for atrocities they have done to us, and then we help rebuild them?

Let’s take care of our own — whether the elderly who have paid their dues to this country or our children who are our future.

There are arguments between the Republicans and Democrats every day, one blames the other, but in the meantime nothing is getting done.

Bert Levesque

Fort Kent

The best for Cherryfield

Hats off to Cherryfield and their will to go it alone, breaking away from Harrington-based SAD 37. I’m from Charleston, and we tried for three years to be removed from SAD 68. We even tried to sue the district to no avail.

I was the CEO for The Charleston Educational Corp., which was formed after the selectmen had tried for more than a year to withdraw from the district. We had a nine-member board and met once a month. In retrospect, we should have met every two weeks.

We made phone calls and sent letters and emails to the state and the superintendent, to no avail. Our concerns fell on deaf ears.

This was despicable to say the least. For two years we fought for the right to withdraw. I’m old school, and when it comes to education, bigger is not better. I believe that children in small schools do better grade-wise, with a higher grade average. Let the numbers speak for themselves.

I understand the state’s stance in keeping the school districts in check and whole, but there’s always the exception to the rule.

This is America, and this is the state of Maine, and, as far as I know, we are free. I understand when you join a district, you sign a contract. Well, contracts are broken every day.

I’m not saying that withdrawal should be easy, but it should be possible, provided that the town or municipality in question has good reasons and merits withdrawal. I wish the town of Cherryfield the very best in its endeavor.

Ken Churchill

Charleston

LePage tax

Gov. Paul LePage wants to exempt businesses, big and small, from a personal property tax. It’s all good and well for the mom and pop stores and home businesses, but if someone says they have a mill in their backyard, well let’s just say that all that excess burden is put right back on the working man.

Kiss those towns goodbye. Haven’t we suffered enough, LePage, or do you want our blood as well?

David Brown

Baileyville

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