Monday, March 24, 2008

Budget cuts pay back?

Another weekend has passed, but it was an unusual one. We didn’t have a storm. I can’t recall the last time a weekend was without some form of precipitation this winter. I have mentioned that Joe Cupo, the chief meteorologist at Portland TV station WCSH, said a few weeks ago that this winter has been marked by a storm just about every Wednesday and weekend this winter. Apparently that won’t change this week, either, in spite of the stormless weekend that just passed. Snow to rain is forecast for Wednesday and that chance of something happening this weekend has reached the weathercasts.

Considering weekends we’ve had, my son and his wife and daughter picked a reasonably great weekend to visit us here in Maine. They live in a West Coast state and arrived here Thursday after a flight to Boston and a rented car ride to here. They raise and sell cats and the daughter-in-law left this morning for Pennsylvania to deliver two kittens there. Our son and granddaughter will be here until Wednesday when they head back the West Coast.

It’s been a great visit so far. We’ve spent more time with them than we’ve spent in the last 15 years combined. And we have a little more time to spend. But I hate to admit that we old folk are getting just a little bit tired. It’s all worth it and we’ll be very happy if we have a chance to do it again.

The family visit has made following our Legislature just a little difficult. Not much happens in Augusta on Mondays. Nor Fridays for that matter. I’m not sure much happens in Augusta anytime. Gov. Baldacci signed one piece of legislation into law today that bans the sale of any type of toy shaped or novelty lighters. Some are joking about the legislation, but you won’t see any fun poked at it here. Those little gadgets, some shaped like toy cars, some like baseball bats, some like flashlights, too darn many shapes to include them all here, could do serious harm to a small child as it did one boy, burning much of his face, and prompting the law.

Last Thursday, the Democrat members of the appropriations and taxation committees reached an agreement with Gov. Baldacci on a proposal to cut nearly $200 million from the state budget to solve a shortfall in revenue problem. The governor had called in a bi-partisan resolution, but the Republicans had ended the participation earlier in the day.

One of the provisions of the Democrat plan, sometime around midnight, was to eliminate a Republican popular part of Legislative action, a committee best known as OPEGA, the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability. Looks to me like the Democrats don’t want to be held accountable. The editor of a popular Maine Internet Forum, As Maine Goes, revealed that a state legislator said the cut of OPEGA was Pay Back. That could end up raising the hair on the necks of a few Republican legislators.

The full Legislature probably will begin discussing the cuts Wednesday.


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