My two-year term as Maine state treasurer ends on Monday. I’ve been humbled and honored by the privilege to serve the state Legislature and the hard-working people of Maine. I thank you deeply for this rewarding opportunity.
The Maine Legislature elects our four constitutional officers, including the state treasurer. The incoming Democratic majority elected the current state auditor and former Democratic state Sen. Neria Douglass as Maine’s next state treasurer. I congratulate Treasurer-elect Douglass and have been pleased to assist with her smooth transition.
Because of the trust you placed in me, during the past two years, together, we encouraged fiscal discipline throughout state government. We helped to make positive changes for our families and businesses by reducing the cost to live and work in Maine, including:
- More retirement security for public school teachers and state employees. Reforming the pension plan eliminated $1.7 billion (41 percent) of our public pension debt and reduced government spending by roughly $200 million per year. The largest tax cut in Maine history followed, primarily benefiting the working poor.
- More affordable housing for Maine’s most vulnerable families. Lowering the costs for tax-subsidized apartments by 36 percent in 2013 will provide an additional 148 at-risk Maine families with safe housing just as federal funds might begin drying up.
- End wasteful government spending. Three-day trips to New York, including $4,000 celebratory dinners, to sign routine financial transactions have stopped.
- Lower interest payments on state borrowing. Requiring Wall Street to compete to buy our bonds is saving Maine taxpayers millions of future interest costs.
- Retain Maine’s “AA/Aa2” credit rating. This will hold down interest payments for Maine taxpayers when state government must borrow. A solid credit rating also helps to attract business investment and more jobs.
- Lower investment management fees for families saving for college tuition in Maine’s NextGen College Savings Plan.
- Online process to help return 39,000 dormant bank accounts, uncashed payroll checks and other unclaimed property to their rightful Maine owners.
- Replace board members at quasi-independent state authorities. Business professionals are bringing accountability to the Maine State Housing Authority and Maine Turnpike Authority.
- Facilitate expansion of natural gas pipelines. Lowering the cost to heat our homes and businesses and to operate our mills and factories will help create additional jobs and more tax revenues to fund government services.
These positive changes include putting Maine state government’s fiscal house in order. Augusta living within its means and taxing our families and businesses only what is necessary is essential to attract more jobs to Maine. This, in turn, will build a stronger state economy, less government dependency and more choices and freedom for our fellow Mainers.
Maine is a special place to live and raise a family. Let’s make it a promising place to work by continuing to remove unnecessary regulations, further reduce health insurance premiums and expand educational choices for students. Quality of life includes a paycheck. Let’s give entrepreneurs ever more reasons to investment their savings to start or expand businesses in Maine with new jobs for our citizens. That’s the best way to keep our kids and grandkids here.
During the past two years, I never tired of the stunning beauty of the lighted dome on our State Capitol. Turning off the lights at the Treasury tonight, I’m reminded of the thousands of Maine taxpayer customers who shared with me their concerns for better lives in our beloved state. You taught me that good government is helping the most people with the fewest tax dollars. Together, we made a big difference in two short years. Thank you for that opportunity.
Bruce Poliquin’s term as state treasurer ends Monday. His comments are as treasurer, not as a trustee of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System.