Friday, January 11, 2008

The Fun Begins!

We Mainers are in for a real wild ride over the next several weeks. The battle will be waged in Augusta as the state Legislature attempts to resolve the state’s budget shortfall by making some cuts, performing some consolidations, and not making any tax increases.

Those taxes are in just about everyone’s mind. After all, as I’ve said here before, we live in the highest taxed state in the country. Residents are telling our lawmakers that we cannot stand any more taxation. There are some Democrats, however, that feel the best way to solve the crisis is through taxation. The Bangor Daily News reported this morning that the idea of increasing taxes is probably dead because the governor has said he will veto any tax increase. Republicans, who have said they will not support increases, along with many Democrats who also say they are against more taxes, would sustain any veto.

Social issues seem to face the majority of cuts. The governor has told us that the cuts will not affect those among us who are the most vulnerable. He does say, however, the many people who are even a little above the minimum wage will be vulnerable. These include people whose income is above that which generally the cutoff for Medicaid benefits.’

People are allowed, if they register, to respond or comment on news articles in the paper. At least one said he felt that anyone who is a lifelong welfare recipient should be affected. He said he was tired and couldn’t afford to support those who have accepted welfare as a way of life.

I’d bet most of us have been behind someone in a supermarket checkout line who pays with a welfare card for very expensive cuts of meat or lobster many of us can’t afford, then pull out a wad of cash to pay for cigarettes, etc.

Most of us would willingly help someone out of a “spot” but, including me, do not find supporting second/third generation recipients who just won’t get a job for themselves.

During his State of the State speech Wednesday night, the State House was surrounded by welfare recipients who wanted no change. No matter that most of Mainers simply can no longer afford to pay the tax bill, there is and will continue to be much pressure on the Legislature not to make any cuts in welfare benefits.

Another area the governor wants to consolidate is the jail administration. That, too, will face stiff opposition. The story will continue.


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