Friday, November 21, 2008

Interesting times ahead

I would say this is a day to stay inside for this old retired guy. Right now (6:30 AM) the temperature outside my house is 15 degrees. We’re told the wind won’t be as bad to day so the wind chill also won’t be as bad is it has been the last couple of days. In fact, the wind chill here right now is the same as the regular temperature.

Nevertheless, this old body doesn’t take to cold very well. I’m on blood thinners so that makes the cold seem colder. Tuesdays and Thursdays are about the only days I fight through this bitter cold in leaving the house. If the weather gal on Channel Six this morning is anywhere near correct, it looks like a veritable heat wave for Monday with the temperatures climbing into the mid 40s. It seems like only a few days ago when I said temperatures in the 40s would be extremely welcome.

Today we have just a mishmash of stuff for you. Like everything I post here, everything is just unsubstantiated opinion; so here we go.

For the past three years the only definitive promise from our President-elect was how we needed change. That theme of change even became the theme of just about every Democrat running for any office. Now I’m wondering just what that word “change” means to President-elect Obama. So far, we’ve seen only the Democrat same-old same-old. Apparently he’s getting set to nominate Tom Daschle to head the Department of Health. Even his own constituents had voted him out of office.

Then there’s Hillary Clinton being considered for Secretary of State. The voters didn’t favor her to win the presidential nomination. Rather than the change we were promised, it looks to me like the president-elect is just looking for supporters of the same old Democrat policies.

Speaking of old Democrat policies, one of them is universal health care. One of the priorities of just about everyone the President-elect is considering is the development of a health plan that has failed just about everywhere it has been tried. We need to look no further than our own state to see how its attempt to begin universal health has failed miserably. The Dirigo plan has caused Mainers to spend several million dollars we don’t have in an attempt to insure fewer than 11-thousand people. And then there’s our neighbor, Canada. The person who designed the Canadian universal health plan has called the result a disaster.

Here in Maine, the Maine State Government is faced with some financial problems, and the governor’s solution to those problems is reaching down into local government throughout the state. The same people such as the elderly, many in need, etc., that also get hit during cutbacks, are facing fewer funds or longer waits. The governor has ordered $80 million be cut from the current budget. The hardest hits were the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Department of Education (DOE).

These cuts spread cutting throughout the state. For example, the DOE will be sending out notices to local school systems telling them how much less money they will receive from the state. That means local school budgets will need cutting, too. What’s hit? Well, early suggestions include student transportation, extracurricular activities, etc., will be targeted. No mention of administration cuts. The DOE says administration will be cut through consolidation. Few districts in Maine say they will save any money with the state’s consolidation order.

Redundant administration in the DHHS has also not been touched. The cuts will come from reduced or slower services to the people who need those services. Both departments have hinted the cuts will come from the areas they can guarantee will make the most noise at the Legislature.

To make matters worse, the Revenue Department says the revenue shortfall causing the curtailments will be much higher than what the governor has cut. And the outlook for the next biennium is even bleaker with estimates now exceeding $500-million in that shortfall.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Legislature handles these cuts. Will it do what it should by prioritizing the spending or will it just raise taxes on Mainers who can’t afford them now? Interesting times are ahead of us.


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