Thursday, May 28, 2009

Now it's all fixed; the State says so!

We need this rain. I’m not complaining. My yard has been bone dry and Wife Gator’s gardens, both flower and vegetable, really need the water. I do have some automatic watering thingies, but they simply don’t do as good a job as real rain. On the other hand, today was senior fitness day. Perhaps I am complaining about the rain just a little. Weather affects this illness ravaged body big time; but as much as I hurt, it is important that I fight my way through my routines. I did today.

As we had thought, the Maine Legislature has passed the new budget for the next biennium and Gov. Baldacci is expected to sign it into law today. I believe it is a terrible budget as it doesn’t address the problems our state faces in funding programs. It is only a temporary fix that has passed along the revenue deficit to communities and state workers.

I’ve discussed several times in the past what I feel are the major spending problems. They deal mostly with what I think are our outrageous welfare programs. I’m with the majority of people who live in this state that we must help people out of short term problems. Our system encourages people to make their careers out of doing nothing and collecting more in welfare benefits than most Mainers earn working 40 hours a week.

This new budget leaves that pretty much intact.

There are many other places where spending could be curtailed and we mentioned most of them in the past, too. The new budget does lower state spending for the next two years, but much of that lower spending results from passing along costs to communities. And much of the revenue shortfall that brought about the crisis is being covered by the onetime payment from federal government “stimulus” package.

I’ve read recently that revenue for April was also way down. That means the revenue shortfall is even deeper than the revenue estimating committee projected the first of this month. So now with just a month left in the current fiscal year, and part of the new budget was to provide funds previously known to be short, this year’s budget remains unbalanced. That would lead one to believe that since more from the passed budget needs to be spent now, the new one must also be unbalanced.

A balanced budget is one in which the state spends only that which it reasonably can expect to take in. It’s our state law. But who in Augusta really cares about that?

People who know a lot more than I about this stuff are already projecting revenue for at least the first part of the next fiscal year, which begins July First, will face another huge shortfall. If all of this stuff is true, Maine is a very long way from resolving its financial problems. Those problems will only grow unless the state bites that proverbial bullet and tackles the need to change its spending habits. That certainly won’t happen with our current bunch down in Augusta.

And the Republicans up there didn’t fight. They probably couldn’t have won, but they didn’t have to accept partial ownership, thus protecting the Democrats, by their support. I’m rapidly losing all respect for Maine Republicans.

Now the Legislature is getting ready to once again start discussing raising the gasoline tax 11 cents over the next four years. Can you imagine a worse time to force more taxes on Mainers than in this economy? Legislators say they need the money to fix the states roads and bridges. Perhaps it would help if they tell us how many roads and bridges and at what cost the past several transportation bond issues have repaired? The “stimulus” money supposedly to fix roads is going where? Was any of either fund simply slipped into the general fund for welfare/Medicaid programs?

I’m sorry. All that isn’t important. The government says we need the money so we must need it. It wouldn’t lie to us, would it?

Oh, yes. The legislature will begin deciding on how much more we can pay, therefore how much it can send out for bonding. That spending just never seems to stop. I wish I had the capability of spending as much as I want by just telling my retirement fund to give me more money.

Enough! Enough, already! Neither Maine nor federal governments care about us; it’s all about getting re-elected. So I’m not going to mention this stuff again until I mention it again.


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