Collins plays games with DeVos votes
The appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary ought to put a spotlight on the political cowardice of Sen. Susan Collins.
For the first time since the election, Republicans and Democrats could come together behind the obvious fact that DeVos was clearly more interested in de-funding public education than making sure disabled students have equal access to education. Schools in rural states in particular would be harmed if DeVos succeeds on her signature push to take money away from public schools and into vouchers for private schools wherever they may be.
Collins came out in the last few days in a show of faux resistance against DeVos. She actually voted against the confirmation so she can continue to claim that she is a principled moderate, but we should never forget that DeVos never would have gotten to the Senate floor had it not been for Collins’ vote to get DeVos through committee.
Collins played this as she always has; she only votes against Republican initiatives if she knows they will pass without her and she gets a chance to look like she votes her conscience.
If she voted her conscience, then DeVos would not have gotten through committee. There is no integrity in Collins’ decision to vote for DeVos in committee and then vote against her when she knew DeVos would be successfully confirmed by the other members of her party. Anyone who considered Collins a moderate or principled should be disgusted. Her actions speak louder than her words.
Improve services for disabled
We are concerned with the viability of the service system designed to support our fellow citizens with disabilities. Rates for funding group home services have been repeatedly cut since 2007 and have not been adjusted for inflation despite ever increasing costs for providing this service.
Gov. Paul LePage considers services for people with intellectual disabilities a top funding priority. He has directed funding to serve people on the waitlist. His current proposed budget includes increased funding of services for people not served in group homes. We applaud and support the governor for this proposal. It will help families to balance the demands of work and caring for their loved ones at home.
The governor’s proposal is a step in the right direction. But it is imperative to recognize that his proposal — while laudable and important — does not address the need for adequate funding to ensure a stable workforce in other areas of the service system, particularly group homes. Thousands of Mainers with disabilities rely on group home services every day.
We are grateful for the governor’s proposal and look forward to partnering with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services in building on the governor’s recognition of the need for a system that works for all those with disabilities whose lives depend on it.
Maine Association for Community Service Providers
Collins disloyal to Maine Republicans
Once again Sen. Susan Collins votes against the greater good for Maine residents. She embarrassed all Maine Republicans when she failed to support our president’s choice for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos. It is another shameful public display of disloyalty to President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and Maine conservatives.
DeVos recognizes that not all public schools, particularly those in urban areas, are beneficial to the students. As it is now, only the children of wealthy parents have their choice of schools. DeVos wants to make this option available for all children. Sen. Angus King also did not vote to support DeVos, but it’s well known that he’s an independent who caucuses with Democrats, so it’s no surprise but no less disappointing.
Thankfully, DeVos has been confirmed, and it is a victory for all the children in Maine and our country. No more will they have to endure bad teachers who are impossible to fire and, most importantly, the Common Core agenda. Their parents will be able to choose the best option where their child will not just learn, but thrive. Who could be against that?
Machias campus an asset
University of Maine System officials were quoted in a Jan. 28 BDN article about merging University of Maine at Machias with the flagship in Orono as writing, “Recognizing the enrollment and demographic challenges in the region and the financial stress they cause, [UMM] and its many community partners have been challenged to fulfill their critical mission of service to students, the people of Washington County and the State of Maine.”
I cannot let this quote stand without a challenge. It should say despite the challenges the Machias campus has faced, it has valiantly contributed to students near and far. UMM has been a tremendous asset to Washington County and all its citizens. It is achieving a reputation outside Maine for its marine biology program, which promises to only increase with the recent funding of a local program.
Mercifully, the state requires that all the system campuses remain in place. The wisdom of this law has most probably saved UMM from the dustbin. Washington County has high unemployment, low wages and a plethora of problems that plague many rural counties. But one beacon of hope is that the lights still are on at UMM. The school should be celebrated for its continued effort to provide a place of hope and scholarship where kids from Washington County can get an affordable college education in their own backyard.
Gail J. Peters
Collins talk, no action
Sen. Susan Collins said she did not think that Betsy DeVos has the knowledge or experience necessary to be the secretary of education. She said this could hurt students in our state.
Yet, when Collins had the power to stop the nomination, she did not vote against DeVos in committee. It doesn’t do any good to voice a position and not back it up with action.
I hope that going forward Collins will act with the courage of her convictions.