I’ve been pretty proud of myself for the last little more than a week. I haven’t mentioned state government or the state legislature. But my patience and good behavior has been seriously challenged. So today I must rant just a little on the governor and legislators, the Democrat ones, who want to take even more of my money. Remember, folks, only one other state at last check paid higher taxes than Maine.
I was listening and watching WLOB radio/Fox 23 TV morning show when Governor Baldacci proclaimed that he would not support any new taxes or tax increases to balance the state’s budget. Like most people, I failed to remember just how shifty this governor is and recognize that he was only talking about fixing the revenue shortfall that faced the state and not for considerations after that shaft had been completed.
The budget was fixed, although many of us believe only temporarily as the Democrat controlled legislature and the governor did not fix any of the problems that led us to the oversized budget. Almost simultaneously with the passage of the budget fix the Democrats introduced new taxes and increased fees in the Legislature. And the governor went along with them.
At stake was the Democrat showcase Dirigo health plan, now in its third year. That plan was passed with the promise that it would be self-sustaining as it would make “affordable” insurance available to everyone. It promised, if my memory is anywhere near correct, more than 33-thousand enrollees of previously uninsured Mainers in the first year. So far, only about 15-thousand people have joined and of those, an estimated 10-thousand did have other insurance first. The costs of the Dirigo plan are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Doesn’t seem too cost effective to me.
Since the enrollees in Dirigo can’t even come close to meeting what has become a very expensive insurance plan, the state had to turn to taxation and fee increases to meet those expenses. Can the state admit it has made an expensive mistake? Absolutely no! Instead in seeks additional taxation and fee increases to pay for this debacle. And it’s you and I that are faced with the bill.
This time around, first it was an increase in cigarette taxes. That caused such an uproar that now the legislature is considering withdrawing that proposal and increasing beer and wine taxes. Please understand, I don’t smoke nor do I drink beer or wine. I gave up smoking back in the late 1970s with the finality in 1980. I probably gave up beer in the late 1980s and the only glass of wine I’ve ever had was in the first month of my marriage almost a half century ago.
Hidden in the bill, both with tobacco increases and now with beer and wine increases, is a little discussed provision to levy a 1.8 percent tax on paid insurance claims. That means higher premiums, higher doctor bills, higher hospital costs, higher just about anything connected with insurance. In other words, higher health care for residents of the state with among the highest health care costs in the nation.
These are not the only increases. We’re faced with increases in license costs, registration plates, and other areas of our lives. The school consolidation law is going to increase your property taxes considerably. The jail takeover will result in higher property taxes. The temptation to blame your local councilors/selectmen and school committee people will be great, but the actions in Augusta, along with other unfunded mandates are the driving forces. It’s time for all this spending madness in Augusta to stop.
There’s only way it can be done and it’s entirely up to you. If you are tired of being highly taxed and want more of your own money to spend on yourself, you have to change the legislative membership. Your and my neighbor and friend aren’t doing us well. It’s time to look at what the promised and what they’re doing now. If they’re not doing what they promised, and the Democrats are not, we must make changes at the ballot box next November.
Edited Wednesday afternoon: You are going to be real happy with a bill being signed this afternoon by Gov. Baldacci. Along with doubling wine and beer taxes, you're now going to be paying 42 cents per gallon for soft drinks. And that's not all. Wait until the full bill comes out or you may be able to find it now on Maine.gov.