Yesterday I discussed my feelings on the high cost of Maine’s government and its spending. Except to suggest that the citizens of this state must fight for a change in the people in elected positions, I did not offer any suggestions on how the spending could be curtailed. The main reason I didn’t offer places of cuts is that I have not read the budget document and honestly don’t have the answers. But for the last few days I’ve been reading a thread on a popular Maine political forum As Maine Goes (www.asmainegoes.com) and several posters have offered suggestions on how this state can save money. That thread is titled, ”And now, let's all play CUT THE BUDGET!” and can be found in the Public Square.
I promised the editor/owner of AMG that I would not reveal the names of the posters nor violate any ‘fair practice’ use of both the posts and source references made by the posters in return for being able to use some of the material. I will honor that commitment here, so I truly hope I don’t inadvertently reveal anything I should not. However, I believe many of the suggestions have great merit and, if the state would take them at face value, could go a long way into reducing the cost of government in Maine.
Although I said last night (see the post below) that probably the only way change can be made is through changes in elected legislators, the people elected must make some extremely difficult decisions on cutting the budget. But the current elected officials are faced with an immediate revenue shortfall which must require cuts right now. Some legislators would prefer to simply raise the money by increasing taxes and fees. Our citizens cannot undertake any more governmental picking of our pockets.
Predictably the governor’s first cut suggestions included the emotion wrenching cuts in some services, like some programs for senior citizens, some programs designed to help children, and others designed to draw the masses to Augusta to protest. One legislator said his proposals were like a school board proposing to cut sports, bands, advanced educational courses out of an education budget, all designed to get the people to fight any cuts.
What the governor’s proposals didn’t do was propose cutting what many feel is a bloated Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget. And that department took a particularly hard hit from the posters on AMG. Some told horror stories (and I haven’t substantiated any of them) of massive abuse in the welfare system, others said too many layers of bureaucracy were costing too much money, too many people were eligible by Maine rules for welfare benefits, including house, food, medical, heat, and many other, way past the 5-year requirements of the Federal Government.
Some people felt that getting Maine’s many, many sections to national averages instead of being #1 in the country could make up for the shortfall. Other forum participants offered suggestions for cuts in most of the other state departments. My best guestimate of what all the savings could be as offered on the forum would be double, perhaps triple, the necessary cuts to make up for this budget cycle’s shortfall. In any event, the suggestions could be a good starting point for total reform and tax relief for our citizens.
There are a few posters who have suggestions that didn’t offer any meaningful suggestions or ideas on resolving the problem, but they are to be expected, I guess.
As Maine Goes (AMG) is a free forum. It’ll take a couple of clicks to get there, but the thread I’ve mentioned can be found by clicking on “News on AMG’s Public Square.”