Burden on taxpayers
Almost everything we buy in Maine may be about to get more expensive.
That is the Democrat-controlled Maine Legislature’s answer to solving our most recent budget crisis: Pass the cost onto the taxpayer.
Instead of confronting Maine’s chronic overspending problem, the Legislature is preparing to increase the state sales tax by half a percent and the meals and lodging tax by 1 percent. I cannot support this budget proposal.
Maine’s tax burden is among the highest in the nation and is frequently cited as the No. 1 obstacle to attracting new businesses and keeping existing ones here. One of the few bright spots in this proposed budget is that the Democrats, wisely, decided not to roll back the largest tax cut in Maine history, passed by the previous Legislature.
Now we are on the brink of taking a giant step backwards by once again asking Mainers to give up more of their paychecks to fund a bloated state government.
The players and the issues have changed over the years, but the fundamental problem has not: Maine doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. My Republican colleagues and I have identified a number of areas in our budget where we could make substantial cuts without impacting essential state services or hurting those who are truly in need of the state’s social safety net.
Maine taxpayers deserve an efficient government that they can afford. This budget proposal falls short of that standard.
Sen. Michael Thibodeau, Senate Republican leader
Talking dollars and sense
As K-12 school enrollments decline, school districts and the state of Maine are scrambling to cover budget shortfalls. In response, schools are racing to add pre-kindergarten programs to boost their enrollment numbers.
A 4-year-old has to attend a minimum of 10 hours a week to be counted as a full-time student, and they are funded the same as a K-8 student attending school 30 hours a week.
What the public does not seem to realize is the actual cost of these programs. In Hampden, the district received $7,900 a year per pupil last year, according to Emil Genest, SAD 22 assistant superintendent. Of this, $4,600 comes from the state of Maine, according to Carol Wynne at the Department of Education. So I assume the leftover $3,300 comes from local taxes.
To put this in perspective, a child attending public pre-K costs the taxpayer $7,900. This same service is offered at Highland Pre-School for $2,950 a year.
I am not against preschool for children. I have owned and operated Highland Pre-School in Hampden for 30 years and have a highly respected, developmentally appropriate program.
However, several area preschools have gone out of business since pre-K was offered “free” by local school systems. Local businesses who pay property, payroll and income taxes are being jeopardized by our own government, and taxpayer dollars are being squandered to fund an overpriced program which we are not legally obligated to provide.
As responsible taxpaying citizens, we need to squelch the urge to be everything to everybody. The public pre-K program is a prime example of the fleecing of America. Andy Rooney would turn over in his grave.
Tami Campbell, owner and director, Highland Pre-School
I was very disheartened to see that Gov. Paul LePage vetoed LD 1366 — a unanimously supported bill asking all Maine high schools to spend just 20 minutes teaching students h ands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
We live in a rural state. Emergency responders can’t get to most of us in five minutes. As a former emergency responder and firefighter and a current CPR instructor, I know the value of having these skills. But it’s important for everyone to know them as most cardiac arrests happen at home. I would be willing to volunteer my time to help with this training.
Without some hands-on training, most people do not feel ready to help and may hesitate. That little bit of training these high school students get could make the difference between life and death. I understand this importance as a heart survivor. CPR saved my life.
CPR training can be worked into existing classes and is about learning the easy steps to save a life. It does not cost a dime because schools can either use a partially deflated soccer ball or partner with local service providers to do the hands-on skills practice. Of the thousands of minutes of instruction time in four years of high school, it takes 20, or less than 1/10 of 1 percent of that time.
Please take five minutes to contact our legislators and tell them to override the veto. As a heart survivor, I thank readers from the bottom of my heart.
I spotted David Whitney’s letter to the editor on May 30 regarding the lack of community utilization at Downeast Community Hospital. I want to reinforce his message to the people of Washington County: Stop making the choice to take what business the small population of Washington County can actually support to urban areas.
We echo DECH’s woes: Our community members are heading to large regional hospitals. Rather than return home for rehabilitation or extended care, they remain in those urban areas.
After someone leaves the area for hospital or nursing services available in their community, when they actually need or want the service close to home, it may no longer exist.
The finest nursing facilities in the entire country are here in Washington County, yet Atlantic Rehabilitation in Calais went out of business last year. Despite that “canary in the coal mine,“ people continue to choose to leave the area for services offered here.
When people leave our area, they rely on discharge planners to help them decide where to go. Their role is not to educate, it is to discharge. Before someone needs long-term or skilled care — do the research, make the best choice, not the easiest one. It is probably in the backyard.
When someone is in a time of need remember us. Business is needed here locally more than anywhere else. When people don’t use their local businesses, they disappear.
Nathan Brown, administrator, Oceanview Nursing & Residential Care