I’m a Republican, and I’m voting for Mike Michaud this November.
That doesn’t make me any less of a Republican. Four years ago I volunteered with the Gov. Paul LePage’s campaign and believed he would be the right choice for our state. Two years ago, I was the Republican candidate for a seat in the Maine House.
I’m still a Republican selectman in Edgecomb, and I’m proud of my party. Yet, LePage’s problems aren’t about party; they are about irresponsible, failed leadership and a willingness to put his own political gain above the needs of Mainers.
For the last four years I have seen LePage’s policies hurt our small towns, our small businesses and put our children’s futures at risk, and I know we cannot survive another four years.
The recession of the last seven years has hit Maine as hard as any other state in the country. Our budgets were in need of balancing, and our small businesses — the backbone of our economy — were in need of help.
Instead of taking a smart approach to putting our fiscal house in order, LePage imposed drastic cuts on towns in the form of revenue sharing cuts, passing the burden along to property tax payers and small business owners.
I have seen the struggles as a selectman in Edgecomb, where LePage’s revenue sharing cuts resulted in a loss of over $16,000 for our town. While this may not seem like a lot, it resulted in a direct increase in property taxes for Edgecomb’s roughly 1,200 people.
Cutting our services to the bone while LePage gives his political appointees special perks isn’t just wrong, it shows a complete disregard for the priorities of working Mainers. While LePage tries to claim victory on the state budget, those of us in small towns across the state have seen the true spoils of that so-called victory: being forced to raise taxes on people who have already seen their wages decreased and costs increase under LePage.
It is not just working Mainers who have been hurt by LePage’s policies; it’s also our next generation being brought up through our schools. Cuts to state revenue sharing funds have put a strain on local school budgets, often forcing towns to make dangerous cuts.
These cuts aren’t about teachers or administrators. They are not about paying people more or less. These cuts are about whether our kids have textbooks or whether children with special education needs get the care required. They’re about whether our children have access to computers or to class sizes that allow them to get the attention and dedication they need so we can have an educated workforce to fill 21st-century jobs.
In my hometown of Edgecomb, we have seen state funding per student shrink from $2,745.96 per student to $1,674.40 in the last four years. In addition, LePage’s policies that shift the burden from the state to local taxpayers have resulted in our town paying an additional $20,000 per year toward state teacher retirement funds; an increase of 100 percent from the year before.
With less funding per student, schools are forced to make cuts or pass the burden of making up the difference onto taxpayers. This shifts the unenviable task of asking for funding from LePage to local officials, making LePage’s cuts politically advantageous but dangerous in practice.
I am raising three children here in Maine, and like every parent, their education is important to me. Making smart cuts is one thing, but cutting off future opportunities for our children by cutting the resources they need to grow goes beyond party or ideology and is just wrong for Maine.
This November, I’m putting my party aside and putting my state and my children first. I’m voting for the candidate with the best plan and the right priorities; I’m voting for Mike Michaud for Governor.
Jessica Chubbuck, a Republican, serves on the Edgecomb Board of Selectmen.