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Wednesday, March 23, 2016: Higher minimum wage good for small businesses, welfare shackles the poor, support Maine solar energy

Fair pay for home health workers

From a young age, I knew I wanted to help people. That’s why I went into home health care. It’s a field I find rewarding, a feeling shared by many in the field, and I have devoted my life to it.

On top of being good for individuals, it’s vital work for our communities. As our country continues to age and Maine continues to lead that transition, demand for these workers is increasing.

That’s why it’s ridiculous Maine is actively encouraging people to leave the home health care field by refusing to pay them a living wage. People who feel called to help care for our loved ones often are forced to leave the field because they can’t care for their own loved ones on such low wages. People in this field are forced to pick up extra jobs to get by and struggle to make ends meet.

Raising my own daughter while working in home health care for 30 years, I often had to work multiple jobs and still lived below the poverty line. I relied on subsidized housing, food stamps and MaineCare. Eventually, I was forced to leave the field out of financial necessity.

Looking back, I mostly feel sad for the circumstances that I and many others were forced to experience, as we worked to give others families peace of mind and were deprived of our own financial security.

Katherine Record


Welfare shackles the poor

David Farmer in his columns neglects to identify the fact that the liberal agenda has resulted in the reintroduction of slavery into this country. It has a new face, no longer based on race.

Today’s slavery is the welfare and entitlement programs of the liberals, which bind the poor and the underprivileged to government handouts. Individual efforts and initiatives are stymied by loss of those handouts.

We now have families who have five generations bound in welfare, and the liberal agenda calls for even more shackles around the legs of the poor.

Mike Garrow


The ugly America

In December 2003, another Vermonter who was running for president, Howard Dean, made the following prophetic statement in South Carolina: “If any politician tries to win an election by turning America into a battle of us versus them, we’re going to respond with a politics that says we’re all in this together — that we want to raise our children in a world in which they are not taught to hate one another, because our children are not born to hate one another. We’re going to talk about justice again in this country and what an America based on justice should look like — an America with justice in our tax code, our health care system, our hearts as well as our laws.”

How far our country has fallen since those words were spoken. The leading Republican presidential candidate today spews hatred and incites riots with every word he utters. We have become the “ugly America,” where everyone is an enemy. The battle of us versus them is waged at fever pitch, and if someone is in the “us” crowd today, he or she could very well be in the “them” crowd tomorrow. No one is safe from the daily diatribes. Does anyone feel safe when looking toward the future?

Kathy W. Walker


Support Maine solar energy

The Maine Public Utility Commission stakeholders, tasked with developing an alternative payment system to solar generators for the benefit provided to utilities and electrical grid, has worked tirelessly to write LD 1649 to address the concerns of and promote our burgeoning solar industry.

Stakeholders included industry, utilities, the office of the public advocate and numerous others. This solar bill, though not perfect, will advance much-needed solar power that brings Maine into the 21st century, providing energy captured within the state, improving our economy and keeping energy dollars circulating in Maine, not sending them overseas or into the coffers of the fossil fuel industry, which does little to support our workforce and economy.

To strengthen LD 1649, it is right to grandfather existing solar net metering contracts, which by Public Utility Commission’s analysis benefit utilities almost twice what it costs them. The net metering system works well. It behooves us to maintain that system while the proposed reverse auction is proven.

It’s time to promote a new industry that will benefit us all. The Energy Utility and Technology Committee should vote ought to pass on LD 1649 because of the ultimate benefits the solar industry will provide to Maine’s future by increasing jobs, improving lives and increasing the availability of in-state investment dollars as well as strengthening availability of local compensation for Maine’s workforce.

Becky Layton Bartovics

North Haven

Minimum wage benefits small businesses

Greg Dugal of the Maine Restaurant Association and Peter Gore of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce got one thing right in their March 12 BDN OpEd: Businesses agree it’s time to raise the minimum wage. Not only are too many Mainers struggling to make ends meet on poverty wages, but small businesses across Maine would benefit from the economic boost provided by higher wages.

Unfortunately, they also got important facts wrong. They claim to have supported minimum wage increases last year. Actually, they testified against every one of them — even a 50-cent, one-time increase. Even Rep. Dillon Bates, author of minimum wage bill LD 92, which has been amended and Dugal and Gore now claim to support, wrote in a March 14 BDN OpEd that their groups “led the opposition” to his proposal.

So why are Dugal and Gore trying to rewrite history? If they can get the Legislature to support their “competing measure,” it makes any increase in the minimum wage less likely.

A real minimum wage increase will lift all boats, and businesses across Maine will benefit. Hundreds of Maine small-business owners support the referendum to raise the wage to $12 per hour by 2020 and gradually phase out the subminimum wage for tipped workers. They represent different industries and areas of the state, from Chris Hallweaver of Northern Girl in Van Buren to Pia Neilson of Solo Bistro in Bath. It’s unfortunate lobbyists representing the interests of certain large corporations are standing in the way.

Will Ikard


Maine Small Business Coalition



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