Thursday, April 23, 2009

More State Budget Woes

A rainy, humid night didn’t indicate too good a day for me at Senior Fitness this morning. But by the time I left home and arrived at the fitness place, the sun was shining and the skies were blue. The humidity had gone to its home. It was a beautiful beginning, and that’s the way it’s continuing to develop this morning. As a result, just as quickly as the weather cleared up, my bones dried out and I did all my exercises with ease. I was appropriately tired when they finished, but I felt great.

I wasn’t in Augusta yesterday for any of the discussions taking place. There were a couple of major ones, one of which was streamed so off and on I could grab a few minutes of testimony. That was the public hearing on a bill which would allow same sex marriage in Maine. The other discussion concerned the topic of yesterday’s posting, the Maine budget. I heard one TV station’s take on that discussion on the news last night.

Since my priority between the two is the budget, I’ll start with that one. If you want my discussion on the budget from yesterday, scroll down to the next post or click here. The comments here are from watching the WCSH-TV, Channel 6, presentation last night.

WCSH said legislative leaders and Governor Baldacci are expecting bad news next week when new revenue projections are released. The appropriations committee has been working on a budget for the next biennium as well as trying to resolve a shortfall in the current budget. They had expected a large decrease in revenue but learned yesterday that the amount could be much larger than expected.

State Senator Bill Diamond, Democrat from Windham, told WCSH, “I think it could be $350 million could be $400 million, it could be $500 million. More? More. Above and beyond. I think when the revenue projections come in we're going to have a real serious problem on our hands."

Governor Baldacci has said there can be no tax increases. That led Finance Commissioner Ryan Low to tell WCSH, "There are no easy choices out there. As we've said to this committee several times, if there were any easy choices we would have presented them back in January."

If no new taxes will be presented by the governor, then that would leave the legislature with some very difficult choices, including where to cut. It wasn’t included in the story the TV station had printed on its web site, but I believe I recall hearing that the two biggest sections of the budget, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education, would be facing more serious cuts.

I think it was reporter Don Carrigan who pointed out that there haven’t been too many protesters on the budget so far, but many will be expected once the committee announces just where the cuts will be.

I certainly hope the legislature can look at the budget realistically and begin making the necessary steps necessary to bring the budget back in line with what Mainers can afford. A whole lot of pet programs will have to be examined.

I did not listen to the whole public hearing on mixed marriages. I thought what I did hear was extremely emotional lacking facts on one side and simply unemotional facts from the other. The news report I saw last night seemed to indicate that more than half of the estimated 3000 people there were in favor of the proposed law and they were all dressed in red.

As I said, I didn’t attend the hearing and only listened to snippets on the streaming testimony so I’ll refrain from commenting until I’ve had a chance to digest the various news reports on the hearing. It would seem to me from what little I did hear that the debate is far from over and we’ll be hearing a whole lot more in the weeks and months ahead.

My first reaction, however, is I would not like to see yet another institution go by the wayside. Marriage as we know it surely would if the law is passed. It’s about time we stood up and said we’ve had enough of the destruction of our way of life that has survived so many centuries.

How ‘bout them Bruins? I don’t think Montreal was ever really in the playoff series swept by Boston. Looking at the very long list of Canadiens who will be free agents at the end of the season could show one reason they were lifeless as a goodly portion of the team probably won’t be in Montreal next year. On the other hand, one might think they would have played their hearts out to make them wanted next year. Not to be. The fans booed them off the ice.

And we said after the last game of that Oakland series last week that perhaps the Red Sox had at last broken out of their funk. They have and have climbed from last place into a tie for second and headed upward following their sweep of the Orioles over the weekend and the Twins yesterday.

On the other hand, there are the Pirates and Sea Dogs.


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