Disservice on Acadia
In Tuesday’s edition of the BDN, a story states that Acadia National Park will be closed due to the federal government shutdown. While technically this is true, unlike most national parks, most of Acadia is accessible via state and local roads which will not be closed, as they are not controlled by the National Park System. Many (most?) of the hiking trails, ponds, carriage roads, mountain summits, etc., will remain accessible to the public. Many of the most beautiful parts of Acadia can still be easily visited using state and local roads.
The BDN does a terrible disservice to the local economy, the citizens of Maine and our many out-of-state visitors by implying that visits to Acadia are not possible during the government shutdown. Much of Acadia National Park and all the beautiful areas surrounding the park will remain accessible to visitors throughout the period of peak autumn color, and beyond, regardless of any government shutdown.
East Blue Hill
Better wages, benefits
The Sept. 17 letter in praise of direct support workers who help people with developmental disabilities was heartwarming and great to read. Another task left to complete by all who award contracts, manage and develop programs is to work together to ensure higher wages and benefits for the people who do this incredible work.
Maine has some of the highest costs per person for services for persons with intellectual disabilities; yet pay is among the lowest nationally.
Some agencies advertise jobs that require workers to go to work and stay 60 hours on site but be paid for only 40 hours. Through my volunteer work with Food and Medicine and my own long-past professional work in that field, both in Connecticut and in Maine, I strongly support better wages and benefits for these great workers.
Jane O’Loughlin French
Attacks across the aisle
Maine House Speaker Mark Eves recently attacked his Republican colleagues for questioning his push to dramatically expand MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program. With about 3,100 elderly and disabled Mainers languishing on Medicaid waitlists, many Republicans want to take care of the needy first before expanding again to cover 70,000 able-bodied adults.
Eves said that our concerns are an “excuse” to oppose welfare expansion that only surfaced when it was “convenient.”
I have inconvenient news for the speaker. For me, this issue surfaced three years ago, on the heels of eight years of Democratic legislative majorities and a like-minded governor. Perhaps it was not “convenient” to prioritize Maine’s neediest individuals during that decade. They must have been too busy expanding medical welfare to thousands of able-bodied adults to notice the growing waitlists and the overextended budget. This is shameful.
Eves also claims that some legislators are using the waitlists as an “excuse” to avert expansion. If ensuring that welfare serves the neediest first is an “excuse,” what does he think the “real” reason for opposing welfare expansion involves? Perhaps the state cost of $75 million per year? Or the historical evidence that Medicaid costs routinely exceed projections while increasing emergency room usage? Or maybe because we finally paid off the last of the state’s $738 million hospital debt that was created by past expansions?
These are plausible “excuses” not to increase Maine’s welfare spending. Perhaps we would find some common ground if the speaker refrained from publicly insulting his colleagues across the aisle.
Rep. Heather W. Sirocki
What you have to do
I am the mother of three wonderful children, and we live in an apartment in Oxford village. I have two associate’s degrees, which I received in 1994 from Hesser College. I work more than 40 hours a week as the administrator for a child care center in Oxford, and I’ve been there for three years. Three years ago, I was laid off as an executive assistant in Falmouth. Since then, I have found myself struggling financially due to a substantial pay cut. Jobs in Oxford Hills are few and far between, and when you do find a good one, the salary levels are substantially lower than those in southern Maine.
Applying for help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was difficult for me. As a working mom I had to swallow my pride and contact the Department of Health and Human Services. Now that we receive these benefits, I worry less about how I will have enough money to feed my children healthy food.
There are more and more families that thought they would never be on SNAP. After rent, utilities, child care, gas and other necessities, there isn’t much left for food. Without SNAP, I would need to make difficult decisions on what is more important: feeding my children or paying the electric and child care bills? All of them are important. Hardworking people should not have to make those decisions, but you do what you need to as a parent to make sure that your children are taken care of.
Tuesday was the first day of the government shutdown. I can’t tell you how amazed I am at how our Congress works.
It just seems to me that the Republican and Democratic parties are destined to “disagree” into infinity. To disagree is one thing, but to continually stall out over everything to move America in a positive direction is disgraceful.
We can’t just sit back and continue to be used as pawns in the system we currently have, which obviously is broken and can’t be fixed.
My feelings are that we should clean house and start over with everyone in Washington, D.C., from the top down and get people in there who are “for” the American people and want what’s best for America, act like responsible adults and agree to work together, instead of acting like five-year-olds who can’t get along.
This is our government? This is just pitiful.