On the backs of the working class … really?

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 Ah, the smell of spring, green lawns, flowers blooming and those rascally Republican’s wanting grandma to die, throw the poor out in the street and balancing the budget on the backs of the working poor to give tax breaks to the “wealthiest” of Maine people! Some things never change…not even the rhetoric of the Progressives! When will they change the argument and the battle cry to “gin up their base?”

I am certain that my counterpart for the Political Animals will be spewing the same talking points that you are hearing from the unions, or I mean the teachers and state employees on the radio and television. The issue we are addressing this month is the budget proposal for the next biennium (two years) currently being debated in the Legislature. Is the Governor and the Republican-majority Legislature balancing the budget on the backs of the working folks?

 The reality is that the state of Maine finances are a mess because the previous majority ran the state by having a spend-and-tax policy. Yes, I said spend-and-tax because that is what the process is set up to achieve. We have a Taxation Committee (the senders) and we have the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee (the spenders). You would think they would be working hand-in-hand to craft a responsible financial plan (budget) on how to responsibly handle our money we send to them. What we have instead is the Appropriations Committee (spenders) tells the Tax Committee (senders) what they need to make the budget work. Hence you have spend and tax.

What this budget accomplishes is to address the issues and not continue the practice of “kicking the can down the road” that the Democrats have done for many years. Will there be some shared sacrifice in the budget? Absolutely! But right now there seems to be a great sacrifice on the private sector working people. We are at a point that if not addressed we will suffer the same irreparable hardships as California, Wisconsin and New York. We are not a large state and do not have the resources to continue on this unsustainable path.

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So what exactly does this budget accomplish and what are the sticking points creating such an outcry?

 • First item is the massive debt owed to the state employee pension fund. The McKernan administration started the practice of underfunding the pension system for the purpose of balancing the budget. The following administrations and the legislatures continued the practice. The current situation is that the state of owes the system $4.3 BILLION, which equates to a payment of approximately $449 million in 2012. The problem is, if nothing is done now, within 10 years that payment will balloon to $849 million for a budget cycle.

PROPOSED SOLUTION:

There will be no cut in pensions to retirees

There will be no Cost of Living Adjustments for three years

COLA’s after that will be capped at 2 percent.

Active teachers and state employees currently contribute 7.65 percent and are being asked to increase their contribution to 9.65 percent of their salaries to their retirement — an increase of 2%. The retirement age will increase from 62 to 65 for new employees, not current, tenured employees.

By 2021 payments into the retirement fund will be reduced to $ 291 million, a savings of $ 558 million.

• Reduces the number of Maine government employees (12 percent of the population):

Many State agencies are over-staffed and under-worked. The governor’s budget implements a real hiring freeze, but requires all state agencies to fill essential positions only after finding and implementing efficiencies. This budget does not include mass layoffs, across-the-board cuts or gimmicks like furlough days.

•  Begins paying down the debt owed to Maine hospitals: Avoids hospital layoffs and supports access to quality health care

• Provides aid to education K – 12 ($ 63 million): These funds are intended to support classroom teachers and their students.

Implements critical welfare reform

• Eliminates instant eligibility for cash and benefits for those who come to Maine for welfare ($20 million per year savings) by establishing a 90-day waiting period.

• Sets a five-year limit on benefits; moves people towards self-reliance.

• Requires mandatory drug testing for those convicted of drug felonies. Welfare fraud has reached epidemic proportions with people using their benefits to purchase drugs, cigarettes, and beer. Many welfare recipients live much better than those who pay for their benefits.

The next issue is being tied to the union ads you are currently hearing about balancing the budget on the backs of the teachers and state workers for tax breaks for the wealthiest of Mainers.

 • Cuts taxes for Maine citizens and Maine businesses ($203 million):

• Eliminates the marriage penalty; increases personal exemption for all, including Maine government (union) workers.

• Provides depreciation for Maine businesses — an immediate incentive for businesses to grow and thus create jobs.

Takes 70,000 Mainers OFF the tax roles! Currently folks making $18,500 pay the top rate of 8.5 percent. Which, when you think about it, is ridiculous considering they are eligible to receive Maine Care and many other benefits such as food stamps and heating assistance.

 Does this appear to be tax breaks for the wealthiest of Mainers or balancing the budget on the backs of the state workers and teachers? It is just the same old mantra being paraded out by the Democrats and their willing accomplices, the  Maine State Employees Association and the Maine Education Association.

 The truth is that the Democrats feel their power eroding because this budget proposal and the new policies coming from  the governor and the Republican majority are a good, common sense approach that is transforming our state back to one of prosperity and positive growth! The combination of this budget and the reforms to health insurance, LD 1333, are having a positive affect already by the in-migration of business to the state. You can judge for yourself by listening to the reasons businesses have chosen to move to Maine. We just had the announcement of 150-250 new jobs right here in the L/A area with the Carbonite web-based company moving here.

It is only the beginning with more prosperity to follow. That is my opinion, let me know yours! My email is slansley2@gmail.com .

Scott Lansley is a former 2-term Legislator, current Sabattus Town Selectman, and Political Director for Maine Taxpayer’s United.

“On the Backs of the Working Class”…Really?

 Ah, the smell of spring, green lawns, flowers blooming and those rascally Republican’s wanting grandma to die, throw the poor out in the street and balancing the budget on the backs of the working poor to give tax breaks to the “wealthiest” of Maine people! Some things never change…not even the rhetoric of the Progressives! When will they change the argument and the battle cry to “gin up their base?”

I am certain that my counterpart for the Political Animals will be spewing the same talking points that you are hearing from the unions — I mean the teachers and state employees —  on the radio and television. The issue we are addressing this month is the budget proposal for the next biennium (two years) currently being debated in the Legislature. Is the Governor and the Republican-majority Legislature balancing the budget on the backs of the working folks?

 The reality is that the state of Maine finances are a mess because the previous majority ran the state by having a spend-and-tax policy. Yes, I said spend-and-tax because that is what the process is set up to achieve. We have a Taxation Committee (the senders) and we have the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee (the spenders). You would think they would be working hand-in-hand to craft a responsible financial plan (budget) on how to responsibly handle our money we send to them. What we have instead is the Appropriations Committee (spenders) tells the Tax Committee (senders) what they need to make the budget work. Hence you have spend and tax.

What this budget accomplishes is to address the issues and not continue the practice of “kicking the can down the road” that the Democrats have done for many years. Will there be some shared sacrifice in the budget? Absolutely! But right now there seems to be a great sacrifice on the private sector working people. We are at a point that if not addressed we will suffer the same irreparable hardships as California, Wisconsin and New York. We are not a large state and do not have the resources to continue on this unsustainable path.

So what exactly does this budget accomplish and what are the sticking points creating such an outcry?

 • First item is the massive debt owed to the state employee pension fund. The McKernan administration started the practice of underfunding the pension system for the purpose of balancing the budget. The following administrations and the legislatures continued the practice. The current situation is that the state of owes the system $4.3 BILLION, which equates to a payment of approximately $449 million in 2012. The problem is, if nothing is done now, within 10 years that payment will balloon to $849 million for a budget cycle.

PROPOSED SOLUTION:

There will be no cut in pensions to retirees

There will be no Cost of Living Adjustments for three years

COLA’s after that will be capped at 2 percent.

Active teachers and state employees currently contribute 7.65 percent and are being asked to increase their contribution to 9.65 percent of their salaries to their retirement — an increase of 2 percent. The retirement age will increase from 62 to 65 for new employees, not current, tenured employees.

By 2021 payments into the retirement fund will be reduced to $ 291 million, a savings of $ 558 million.

• Reduces the number of Maine government employees (12 percent of the population):

Many State agencies are over-staffed and under-worked. The governor’s budget implements a real hiring freeze, but requires all state agencies to fill essential positions only after finding and implementing efficiencies. This budget does not include mass layoffs, across-the-board cuts or gimmicks like furlough days.

•  Begins paying down the debt owed to Maine hospitals: Avoids hospital layoffs and supports access to quality health care

• Provides aid to education K – 12 ($ 63 million): These funds are intended to support classroom teachers and their students.

Implements critical welfare reform

• Eliminates instant eligibility for cash and benefits for those who come to Maine for welfare ($20 million per year savings) by establishing a 90-day waiting period.

• Sets a five-year limit on benefits; moves people towards self-reliance.

• Requires mandatory drug testing for those convicted of drug felonies. Welfare fraud has reached epidemic proportions with people using their benefits to purchase drugs, cigarettes, and beer. Many welfare recipients live much better than those who pay for their benefits.

 ((((((The next issue is being tied to the union ads you are currently hearing about balancing the budget on the backs of the teachers and state workers for tax breaks for the wealthiest of Mainers.))))))

 • Cuts taxes for Maine citizens and Maine businesses ($203 million):

• Eliminates the marriage penalty; increases personal exemption for all, including Maine government (union) workers.

• Provides depreciation for Maine businesses — an immediate incentive for businesses to grow and thus create jobs.

Takes 70,000 Mainers OFF the tax roles! Currently folks making $18,500 pay the top rate of 8.5 percent. Which, when you think about it, is ridiculous considering they are eligible to receive Maine Care and many other benefits such as food stamps and heating assistance.

 Does this appear to be tax breaks for the wealthiest of Mainers or balancing the budget on the backs of the state workers and teachers? It is just the same old mantra being paraded out by the Democrats and their willing accomplices, Maine State Employees Association and the teachers union, the Maine Education Association.

 The truth is that the Democrats feel their power eroding because this budget proposal and the new policies coming from  the governor and the Republican majority are a good, common sense approach that is transforming our state back to one of prosperity and positive growth! The combination of this budget and the reforms to health insurance, LD 1333, are having a positive affect already by the in-migration of business to the state. You can judge for yourself by listening to the reasons businesses have chosen to move to Maine. We just had the announcement of 150-250 new jobs right here in the L/A area with the Carbonite web-based company moving here.

It is only the beginning with more prosperity to follow. That is my opinion, let me know yours! My email is slansley2@gmail.com .

Scott Lansley is a former 2-term Legislator, current Sabattus Town Selectman, and Political Director for Maine Taxpayer’s United.

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