Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Possibly two return to monthly get-together

We can’t have those nice days forever. Today will prove that. The weather guy on Ch. 6 tells us that we’ll have an abundance of rain today. And that “iffy” weather will continue possibly into the weekend. The good part is we need the rain.

We have come to the Last Wednesday of the Month. This will be an especially good one when our little group of retirees meets for lunch today. We meet on the last Wednesday every month just for some good conversation, analyzing the sports world, and solving the world’s problems. Well, at least for some good conversation.

Then why is this day’s session so special? Easy. Two of our members go to Florida for part or most of the winter season. Both of these two snowbirds have now returned to Maine for the summer and both have indicated they will be at lunch today. Actually, there’s a third one that we haven’t seen now for a couple of years. He fell in love with the state and permanently moved there. When his family was living here, he did come back for one or two of our sessions, but his family no longer is here. Apparently, he no longer feels the need to return to Maine.

Most of us have now been meeting this day of the month for a dozen or more years. Sure, each of us has missed sessions here and there, mostly for vacations or an occasional illness. Two members work for the Sea Dogs and when they’re in town for a day game on the last Wednesday, they can’t come. One member is a Maine legislator so he misses the sessions when the Legislature is in session. I won’t go into his record there; suffice it to say we don’t always agree. But that’s O.K. We don’t let politics get in the way of many, many years of friendship.

Before this day is done, Maine may have a new budget for the next biennium. The House passed the budget last night with 31 representatives who call themselves Republican voting in favor. The Senate is expected to take up the measure today and we’ve heard most of the Republican leadership already endorsing it under the guise of “bi-partisanship.”

The budget is simply horrible and does nothing to solve the financial problems facing this state. All it does is get the need to make hard decisions off the legislators’ backs and onto the property tax payer. Mainers will see no tax relief from the budget.

There were, unfortunately, no substantive cuts in spending. Programs need to be cut or at least brought into line with national and federal averages. Our welfare state for just about anyone, native or alien, remains intact. One day Mainers are going to learn that all we’re doing by sending the same crowd back to Augusta each election only makes life for us more difficult.

We had hoped that the Republicans there would have upheld the Republican ideals of smaller government and lower taxes along with less spending. Their own self induced importance stands in their way.

I agree with Rep. Diane Russell, Dem of Portland when she called the budget “heartbreaking.” I find it heartbreaking because it doesn’t address the spending problem.

I had been feeling sorry for the state workers who are bearing a big brunt of the new budget. But then watching what looked like a hundred or more of them marching through the state house during mid morning make one wonder just how important all those jobs are. There are many, many non-state workers who can make that “woe is me” cry a lot more believable. The workers demonstrating today still have jobs, unlike the 8% or higher other Mainers who no longer have jobs.


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