I was elected to my first term in the Maine House of Representatives in 2010 as part of the 125th Legislature. Over the past five years, the Maine media have been quick to seize on every opportunity to criticize Gov. Paul LePage and legislative Republicans while criticizing the long list of transformational Republican accomplishments. Here are just a few of those accomplishments:
— Republicans passed sweeping regulatory reform that eliminated much of the red tape that had been crippling Maine’s businesses for years.
— We passed the largest tax cut in Maine history, putting more than $400 million back in the pockets of hard-working Mainers.
— We stopped Medicaid expansion in the 126th Legislature, which has resulted in the stabilization of our state budget.
— Republicans championed welfare reform, as demanded by hard-working Maine taxpayers.
— We paid off nearly $750 million in hospital debt owed to Maine hospitals we inherited from the previous administration and legislative Democrats.
— And one of the accomplishments I perhaps am most proud of is the passage of the Omnibus Energy Bill.
The Omnibus Energy Bill was the product of a bill sponsored by me, Democratic Rep. Barry Hobbins and Democratic Sen. John Cleveland. The passage of this bill addressed many complicated issues related to energy and efficiency in our state and region. Specifically, we sought to provide a mechanism to encourage the conversation about cheap and plentiful natural gas coming to New England to reduce our energy costs, and we sought to increase funding for the Efficiency Maine Trust.
What we did not do in the Omnibus Energy Bill, however, is provide for greater oversight and accountability in the Efficiency Maine Trust. I believe that was an oversight then and can be corrected now. Elevating the current director of the governor’s energy office to an energy commissioner in recognition of the importance of energy in our state’s economy not only is important, but it’s also the right thing to do. Additionally, providing for a mechanism for greater accountability of the executive director of the Efficiency Maine Trust also is appropriate, given that the trust has grown from a small budget in the millions of dollars to now potentially upwards of $70 million. Additionally, it is appropriate for the executive branch and the legislative branch to have greater oversight of the executive director of the Efficiency Maine Trust and that the executive director be nominated and confirmed by our state’s elected officials.
The Maine House already has passed the “and” fix to address the issue of the funding of Efficiency Maine Trust with support of Republicans and Democrats alike. The additional changes I’m seeking by creating a commissioner-level position and greater accountability again are the right and proper thing to do, and Republicans will fight hard to do just that. While the media seek to criticize Republicans yet again for doing what we believe moves Maine forward, we will do what we believe is right and answer to the voters in 2016.
During my five years in the Maine Legislature, Republicans have accomplished a lot to help the people of Maine. In the 127th Legislature, we’re moving forward with even more of the policy initiatives Mainers have been seeking for decades. Perhaps it’s time for the media to stop launching attacks and smear campaigns aimed at Maine Republicans and start giving equal attention to all the good things we’re doing. It’s clear from the elections in November the Maine voters were paying attention.
Rep. Ken Fredette is the Republican leader in the Maine House of Representatives, representing House District 25, which includes Corinna, Exeter, Newport, Plymouth, and part of Corinth. He has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and currently practices law in Newport.