Maine Legislature

Senate Democratic Office


  March 16, 2012

Contact: Ericka Dodge [Hill], 232-5892 (m)  




Good Morning. This is State Senator Dawn Hill of York.

As a member of the state's Appropriations Committee, we were presented with the governor's most recent supplemental budget—and unfortunately, the budget reads more like a political ploy and less like a balance sheet. It's a far bigger budget than we expected—and bigger than what we were told to anticipate. It includes big issues—and big policy changes. And, in the eleventh-hour of the legislative session, it seems more like a dumpster for where the administration is tossing all of the Governor’s policy ideas that he didn't get through elsewhere at the State House.

It's important that the people of Maine understand that this budget is a shell game. It is not about saving money or tightening belts. It is about picking winners and losers. Worse, we are being asked to spend money that we simply don't have. And, this flies in the face of the governor's assertion that we are “open for business”.
As a small business owner, I can tell you that in order to be “open for business,” we must have an adequate flow of revenue to keep the doors open. Meaning, we need to have the resources to pay the bills, as well as foster business growth and provide a robust skilled workforce.

To be clear, the supplemental budget and the tax cuts proposed by the governor achieve none of these objectives. We are actually seeing revenue being taken from the state as a result of his current and proposed policies. He may speak business-language, but he's not using business principles.

While some of the policies sound like savings, in many instances, the governor's proposal merely shifts the burden. For example, the proposed cut to General Assistance will not make the need for general assistance any less. In fact, it will only pass the buck on to municipalities who will be left with a hole in their own budgets. Municipalities will then be forced to raise your property taxes. That solution will hurt all of us—including business.

It is also deeply concerning that the governor is proposing to cut funding to higher education. During this economic climate, we must do everything we can to make sure that our colleges and universities remain competitive—and that students in Maine have access to training after high school. We know that in order for job creators to come to Maine, we need to have a skilled workforce. We should not be undercutting the very principles we know will work for our people, our businesses and our economy.

Lastly, we cannot ignore that this supplemental budget was given to us on the heels of a significant breech in confidence between the legislature and the administration. Just last week, we learned about a significant computer problem at DHHS that allowed 19,000 ineligible Mainers to continue receiving health care coverage. While the LePage Administration knew about this error back in January, they did not disclose this critical information until after we passed the last budget.

Many questions remain unanswered. As we work on this new budget, doubt lingers about how can we trust that we are getting all the information we need to make sound decisions. In the last go around, a judgment call was made to withhold information from us—will that happen again? I remain concerned about the quality of the judgments and leadership within this administration.

And so moving forward, we must look at creating long-term, balanced solutions. We know that we can responsibly manage our financial house and also make moral choices. In fact, Mainers expect us to refocus on the things that matter most to them, like investing in our schools, our roads and bridges, energy efficiency, and our communities. We must return our focus to policies that will create jobs, shore up our economy and do all we can to put more money in the pockets of middle class and working Mainers.

Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Dawn Hill. Have a great weekend.