Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More budget woes?

Today we should be getting a weather break. The TV weather guy says we could escape without any showers. I’m not sure just how we’ll react to that. We almost made it yesterday in our part of Maine. We did have sun for much of the day, but I went out once to get a haircut and ran into an 11-drop shower on the way home. Wife Gator also had a few drops when she came from her part time job yesterday afternoon. But some parts of Maine weren’t quite so lucky as showers rotated through much of the state just about all day.

Probably because this morning is pretty nice, my session at Senior Fitness went very well today. The moisture is still in that darned hip, though, and the four exercises I do for it urged me to quit them. Perhaps a weight increase contributed to that, too. I fought through that urge. The ball was a little easier today as I continued to follow the routine the intern showed me last week. That ball is still the hardest thing I do, though. What I did today that was different was keep from bouncing a lot longer. That gave me an extra minute trying to balance on the thing.

I apparently hadn’t done quite enough research yesterday morning into a continuation of the Republican protest over no action on an energy policy. You may recall they stayed in the House for several hours after the Democrats recessed for an August vacation. Then I didn’t hear or read anything over the weekend. But mid morning yesterday, I found a news article that said the protest was continuing in Washington. Republicans had sent out messages asking anyone who could to return to Washington and anyone who couldn’t to get the message out to their constituents.

Since it’s relatively early as I pen this, I’m not sure what’s going on down there today. What I do know is that the Democrat Speaker of the House is dismissing the protest as meaningless. She continues to blame a failed energy policy by President Bush for the energy crisis. Of course her not willing to even try to do anything about it has nothing to do with the situation. She and Apparent Dem. Presidential candidate Obama want the country to use the strategic reserved oil. That would be a smart move. In case of an emergency, such as threats from other nations, this country would have nothing on which to fall back. I think the reserves are in storage for just such a contingency.

Last spring I spent quite a lot of space mentioning what was then a huge revenue shortfall to pay for the last state budget. At the last minute the Legislature made some adjustments and increased some taxes and fees and proclaimed the budget balanced. Then, after we read that the state had ordered the withholding of payment for many state services until this fiscal year, the state then proclaimed a budget surplus. Of course the state’s debt to the medical professions, the retirement system, and others was not addressed, so the state had a surplus. The governor looked good and the news media ignored the obvious.

So with no way to pay for it, the debt was transferred to the current biennium budget with no plans to pay for it. Last week the state itself announced that another revenue shortfall was coming. The breakdown in the economy, the slowdown of sales, the high cost of energy which is causing most people to adjust their spending, growing unemployment, shucks, I could go on and on, are all indicating that the new shortfall will approach four hundred million dollars. At least one Legislator says it could be double that.

The new Legislature which doesn’t even convene until next January will be faced with a huge decision. What, if anything, to cut from the budget or what, if any, taxes will have to be raised or created will take up a lot of time. Again we’ll be asked what we would cut. Again I’ll say we didn’t create the mess, the Democrats in Augusta did.

I’ve been getting mail recently from my representatives in Augusta and they all proclaim what a great job they’ve done while there. They’ll continue to spin the truth as they travel through the district seeking support for the November elections. Have a series of questions ready for them and don’t let them spin. Just a few suggestions: What is your position on the Dirigo Health plan which only supports about 12-thousand people? How can we get Maine’s second highest health care cost more in line with the rest of the nation? Warning on this one: You’ll be told Dirigo is savings tons of money and that we have affordable health care. Truth is our insurance laws are what’s causing us to pay more for insurance than just about every other state.

Another question: Why do we pay welfare benefits beyond the five year federal limit which just about every other state uses as a guideline? There are many, many more and most of them will take a little personal research to get the truths. But after you talk with your representative, then make a decision on how you’ll vote. Don’t support them just because they’re a neighbor and a “good person.” Are you better off because of their legislative decisions?

I might have a rave or a rant or two more as November approaches.


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