Bruce Poliquin: Positive changes made for Maine


The Maine Legislature elects four constitutional officers, including the state treasurer. In most other states, the voting public elects those officials, or the governor appoints them.

Here in Maine, the incoming Democrat majority elected the current state auditor and former Democratic State Sen. Neria Douglass as the next state treasurer. I congratulate treasurer-elect Douglass and have been pleased to assist with her smooth transition.

My two-year term as state treasurer ends on Monday. I have been humbled and honored by the privilege to serve the state Legislature and the hard-working people of Maine. I thank them deeply for this rewarding opportunity.

Because of that support, during the past two years we have, together, insisted on fiscal discipline throughout state government. Through our families and businesses, we know that living within our means is essential to building a solid foundation for more prosperity and more economic freedom.

When state government spends less, borrows less, taxes less and regulates less, it provides incentives for entrepreneurs to invest their capital to start/expand companies and to create more jobs for fellow Mainers.

Because of the trust people placed in me, we have, together, helped to make many positive changes for Maine families and businesses, including:

— More secure retirement for public school teachers and state employees. Reforming the pension plan eliminated $1.7 billion (41 percent) of our public pension debt and reduced government spending by roughly $200 million per year. The largest tax cut in Maine history followed, primarily benefiting the working poor.

— More affordable housing for Maine’s most vulnerable families. Lowering the costs for tax-subsidized apartments by 36 percent in 2013 will provide an additional 148 at-risk Maine families with safe housing, just as federal funds might begin drying up.

— End wasteful government spending. Three-day trips to New York, including $4,000 celebratory dinners, to sign routine financial transactions have stopped.

— Lower interest payments on state borrowing. Requiring Wall Street to compete to buy our bonds is saving Maine taxpayers millions of dollars in future interest costs.

— Retain Maine’s “AA/Aa2” credit rating. This will hold down interest payments for Maine taxpayers when state government must borrow. A solid credit rating also helps to attract business investment and more jobs.

— Lower investment management fees for families saving for college tuition in Maine’s NextGen College Savings Plan.

— Online process to help return 39,000 dormant bank accounts, uncashed payroll checks, and other unclaimed property to their rightful Maine owners.

— Replace board members at quasi-independent state authorities. Business professionals are bringing accountability to the Maine State Housing Authority, Maine Turnpike Authority, and other organs of state government.

— Facilitate expansion of natural gas pipelines. Lowering the cost to heat Maine homes and businesses and to operate mills and factories will help create additional jobs and more tax revenues to fund government services.

These positive changes are building a solid foundation for a stronger Maine economy, more jobs and less government dependency. An increasingly affordable state government with less spending, debt and taxes is putting more of the public’s hard-earned money in people’s pockets.

Combined with fewer regulations, lower health insurance premiums, and expanded educational choices for students, these positive changes are creating incentives for business investment and new jobs for Maine citizens.

Maine is a special place to live and raise a family. Let us continue to make it a promising place to work.

During the past two years, I never tired of the stunning beauty of the lighted dome above the state capitol. Turning off the lights at Treasury recently, I was reminded of the thousands of Maine taxpayer customers who shared with me their concerns for better lives in our beloved state.

The public taught me that good government is helping the most people with the fewest tax dollars. Together, we made a big difference in two short years.

Bruce Poliquin is Maine State Treasurer. His comments here reflect his position as state treasurer, not as a trustee of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System.