Budgeting requires restraint

By the time this writing is published, Governor Mills will have released her first state budget. Hopefully, it fulfills her promise of a “sustainable” funding source for the expansion of health insurance for single, able-bodied, childless adults, without raising taxes.

Republican leadership has provided Governor Mills with a healthy Maine economy where more people are working, receiving higher wages and have more opportunities to pursue a better life.

Maine now has a record high number of businesses, record high worker participation and record low unemployment. Wages have risen, fewer people are on welfare and we have fewer children living in poverty. This gives Governor Mills a sound base to build on if she follows the prosperous path pursued by Governor Paul LePage and legislative Republicans.

With regard to the Maine economy, I am reminded of the Hippocratic Oath medical students must take on the way to becoming a doctor: “Primum non nocere.” It means, “First, do no harm.”

State government must be very careful not to overtax, overspend, overregulate or overborrow.

The last eight years of Republican policies have demonstrated that if you lower taxes, you get more revenue. If you restrain government spending, there is more money in the economy for people to spend, which generates more jobs. If you lessen the regulatory burden, people and companies invest in the future. And finally, if borrow within your means, you have a higher credit rating and less of your money goes to paying interest on the debt.

The first full month of the Maine legislative session has unleashed an unprecedented number of spending proposals. There has also been an incredible number of requests for new borrowing. The State of Maine’ general obligation bond debt is currently $376 million. Without hearing from the Governor, legislators have already submitted over $1.27 billion in new debt requests. By the time this column is published, that amount will be even higher.

It seems like the ruling party is making everything a priority. With the release of Governor Mills’ first budget, we will get some idea of her priorities for the next two years. Hopefully, that will lead to some reflection on what our most pressing issues are. Taxpayers are not an unlimited resource.

House Republicans are concerned that “when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” We need to ensure that Maine’s most vulnerable citizens are our first priority. As your State Representative, I want you to succeed. I will work to ensure that state government does not interfere with your efforts and prioritizes the use of your hard-earned tax dollars on those who truly require assistance.  

Being the State Representative for the towns of Caribou, New Sweden and Westmanland is both an honor and a tremendous responsibility. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, suggestions or opportunities to better serve you.  

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