If Gov. Paul LePage’s budget is passed, every property owner in Maine could see his or her property tax increase due to the loss of revenue sharing. Currently, more than 40 percent of Maine’s revenue comes from property taxes.
According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy, the top 1 percent of Mainers only contributes 20 percent of that. If property taxes increase, our low- and middle-income families will bear the burden.
Now is the time for our elected officials to fix this blatant inequity. By simply restructuring our tax code, the MECEP estimates we would gain between $200 million and $250 million per year in revenue and create a fair-share economy.
And lastly, half of our revenue problem is due to LePage’s unfunded cuts to the wealthy in the last biennium budget. Those unfunded cuts are costing taxpayers $342 million dollars. The MECEP said that by repealing LePage’s recent tax cuts, our shortfall is reduced by half and property taxes will not be raised.
It is not a spending problem; it is a revenue problem. Our tax code is severely flawed. The wealthiest in Maine need to pay their fair share. And our governor and legislators need to be held accountable.
Yes, raise taxes on the wealthy. And tell our legislators to do right by Maine.
Hold legislators accountable
I have five points about the proposed federal laws to reduce gun violence:
1. Universal background checks: Gun owners should have to have their safety record and sight reviewed to see if they can drive safely to get a license. A gun owner is similar to a vehicle driver.
2. Gun trafficking: Federal laws are almost nonexistent to prevent trafficking. If trafficking could be slowed, that would be progress.
3. Magazine size: The murderer spent less than five minutes in the Sandy Hook school because he only had to change his 30-round magazine four times. If he had 10-round magazines, perhaps help could have come.
4. Assault weapons: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave Second Amendment protection to weapons “in common use at the time” in his Heller decision. He said, “We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’” In 2013, Gens. Colin Powell and Stanley McChrystal said that military assault weapons should only be used in combat. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill exempts more than 2,000 weapons.
5. The right to life and the pursuit of happiness have been denied to too many who have been killed through gun violence. This right is even more important than the right to bear arms.
These laws deserve up or down recorded votes in both houses with majority rule. Our representatives are accountable to us, the voters, not the gun manufacturers.
Gun ownership and protection
In his March 19 letter, “A constitutional lecture,” Larry Gilbert states that the right to bear arms is a “natural right” that comes with simply being born and that the Second Amendment preserves that right.
He references the need for this so-called natural right to include military-grade weaponry because, “We must have weapons similar to what our oppressors might have.”
That line of thought is more than a little concerning. Who are those oppressors, and who makes that determination? There are reasons we have defined and regulated military services with origins in the original militia referenced in the amendment.
Our branches of the military have weapons to fight oppressors; that military is led and regulated by appointed and elected individuals, and this country does not recognize or condone vigilante actions.
I think that every verbal and written exchange on the subject has the quick potential to veer off course. Current proposals being considered with respect to Second Amendment rights — regarding private gun ownership for self protection, hunting or target practice — are not at risk.
But if someone other than a member of the military or law enforcement just has to shoot a semiautomatic rifle with 30 bullets in the magazine, let’s develop and sanction licensed organizations that could provide the ranges and own the weapons. This way people would be doing so under consistent regulations.
It would be a safer option than the current one whereby some multiple million assault rifles are in private hands, targets for thieves or, in at least a few cases, available for family members to use to murder children and teachers.
Director, Bangor Homeless Shelter
We reset our clocks for daylight saving time. We sprang forward in March, or did we?
The Pope event puzzles me: The Catholic Church is a relic of The Middle Ages, yet the world still watches. This is the same religion that pushed Europe into the Dark Ages, considers women second-class citizens, denies homosexuals respect and fights medical and scientific advances. Belief in a restrictive Medieval culture — springing forward or backward?
Then an article about a high school play in which two male students hugged. A school representative found it “questionable.” What about male athletes hugging after a win or males hugging after a heartbreaking loss? Homophobia: springing forward or backward?
The gun control debate stuns me. I dare anyone who believes “guns don’t kill” to give a speech to the parents of children killed at Sandy Hook. Those children died on the altar of the Second Amendment. People “cherishing” guns: springing forward or backward?
Out west, more than 1,000 wolves have been shot by ranchers. Wolves were on the endangered species list for years. After being removed, they have been aggressively hunted in order to “protect” the rights of beef ranchers who graze cattle cost-free on federal lands. Four of the wolves killed were tagged research animals, and now their roaming, mating and parenting information is lost forever.
Animals killed to feed the unhealthy American diet: springing forward or backward? I believe we have turned the clock back.