Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just catching up a little

Today I’m spending my 650 words just catching up on a few items that we’ve discussed here in the past weeks.

-----The state’s budget continues in the news today. The Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) told a couple legislative committees trying to find ways to fix the $200 million shortfall that her department is considering some more cuts. From what I can gather, those cuts are like earlier suggestions of cutting services to some of the people who need the services most. For example, says the new suggestions include cutting some funds in domestic violence programs, transportation for children in foster care, sexual assault victims and others. In other words, the proposals are more of the “hit the needy” type intending to incite feelings to get people to start screaming about helping the people who need help and eventually giving the legislature a reason to raise taxes. Most notably missing from the proposals were real cuts in, say, middle management bureaucracy where savings probably could be made without affecting a single needy person.

-----The Maine Turnpike Authority has narrowed its search down to four possible locations for a new toll plaza at the south end of the ‘Pike. The new plaza will include high speed access to the road for vehicles with EZ-Pass electronic payments. EZ-Pass (along with Fast Lane in Massachusetts) is used by toll roads and bridges throughout the Northeast and some other states. Some people living in Kennebunk have also demanded a second study within a year to see if Turnpike users are bypassing the York exit, where the toll is $1.75, to avoid that payment. A study a few months ago indicated that a very small number of people were doing that, but another study during the summer months will be made by the Turnpike Authority. I think one question that possibly should be considered is, “Considering the additional time for the trip on Route One and the cost of gas, just how much does one save by avoiding the York booth?”

-----The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously shot down a provision of a Maine law that its sponsors say was intended to keep tobacco products away from children. The law required package delivery companies to verify the ages of recipients of packages from know tobacco dealers. The delivery companies argued in court that the law put unreasonable additional costs on them and the court agreed. I heard a spokesman for the state, but don’t remember his name or position, this morning say the only purpose of the law was for the protection of the children. I suspect a second purpose was to force recipients to file Use Tax payments to replace lost revenue from extremely high tobacco taxes in Maine.

-----The national Presidential race is getting hotter. Now trailing Barack Obama in about all categories, convention delegates, the polls, money, Hillary Clinton has demanded to know just one accomplishment Obama has made. Gee, I’d like to know just one accomplishment any of the four remaining contenders have made. In fact, I’d like them all, Obama, Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, to start getting just a little more specific on what they think they can accomplish if elected President. I’ve a growing suspicion, along with a whole lot of you, that this is going to be one mighty dirty campaign before it’s over.

-----Back locally, when I listened to the weather forecast this morning on the morning television news, my little corner of the world was going to miss a big ocean storm. We might get an inch or less of snow, the weatherman said, but if the storm track was just a smidgeon further out to sea, we might not get anything. Then the noon news came on and the weatherman had changed his tune a little. Now extreme Southern Maine along the coast from about Portland to the New Hampshire border could get up to seven inches of snow. Whatever we get, it should start shortly after noon tomorrow and continue into Saturday. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what tomorrow will or won’t bring.


No comments: