State spending has increased

The Sun Journal’s Sept. 1 editorial (“Facts show state spending really is down”) took umbrage with my critique of state government spending increases because federal funds received by the state were included. The editorial seemed to suggest that federal funds are not real dollars and should not be considered as spending or the concern of the governor and Legislature.

While federal spending these days does seem to be unrealistic, the dollars, nonetheless, are real. It would be irresponsible for the governor and Legislature to ignore their accountability to effectively manage and audit those expenditures. Contrary to the political posturing that encourages people to believe that state government has made Draconian cuts in spending, any examination of the facts show otherwise.

Let’s look at what has occurred in the past eight years.

In 2002, the General Fund expenditures were $2.584 billion. In 2010, General Fund expenditures were $2.866 billion ($283 million more per year than 2002). During the eight-year time-frame, General Fund expenditures peaked at $3.084 billion in 2008 ($500 million more per year than in 2002). While 2010 General Fund expenditures were lower than the peak years, spending was still significantly greater than 2002.

The editorial correctly identified that many of the state budget “cuts” were simply a pass-along to other levels of government. The “cuts” made to the General Fund expenditures should be more appropriately described as “cost-shifts.”

That cost-shifting tactic can best be seen in the costs passed on to property taxpayers via the reductions made to municipal revenue-sharing and Homestead Exemption, in addition to the default on the 55 percent K-12 education funding commitment.

In addition, health care providers also felt the impact through unilateral reductions in compensation rates for services provided through the state-run MaineCare health care program.

A closer look at other special revenue fund expenditures shows an even more significant spending increase. In 2002, expenditures were at $826 million. By 2010, spending had increased to $1.418 billion ($592 million more per year than in 2002).

While the editorial was correct in highlighting that federal funds had increased significantly in 2010 as the stimulus money flowed into state coffers, it is important to recognize that the other state spending categories also have increased significantly during the eight-year period.

In the final analysis, the money that state government spends comes from the same source: taxes and fees. The facts show that state government spent $7.726 billion in 2010 as compared to $5.393 billion in 2002. By any measure, that is a significant spending increase.

State Rep. Ken Fletcher, Winslow

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Comments

 's picture

nope!

Wow, thats a stretch, i think the HEADINE referencing the state and the BODY and CONTEXT of the letter being about the state trumps your peon claim that because it mentions federal spending....what a stretch even by your vivid imagination....but then again, no surprises here folks....

 's picture

Malfunction

When I press the edit button to correct the spelling of correct, the computer tells me I'm not authorized to edit my statement. So I guess this is the only way I can correct the word "correct." It should be spelled correct. Sorry.

 's picture

Say what?

Mr. Fletcher says the editorial was wrong, then says, in every other paragraph, "While the editorial was carrect..."

Hooray for term limits.

 's picture

Didn't the Republicans add $6 trillion to the deficit in the

previous 8 years (2002-2009). I think so. Unpaid for wars, Medicare Part-D, $2.1 trillion in tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 a year. All of you out there received your tax cut didn't you? You know the ones that let you eat out at McDonalds once more a year with your family while those earning $250,000 a year got to buy a new BMW. Yes that's the one. Are you enjoying te $55,000,000 tax cut Democrats passed last year? Oh! that's right. That's the working & middle class tax cut that the Republicans defeated last fall.

 's picture

Next thing you know the republicans will be adding in money

the UN spends in Maine.
Maine legislators and the Governor are responsible for what they spend and the laws they pass only. And they have cut spending by almost $1 billion since 2001.
Second, you'd think that government should spend more in the middle of the worst recession in 80 years. You know the other Republican Great Depression. Or did they expect we'd allow Americans to starve in the street. They are always talking about traditional values (really the values of the 1950's not our real traditional values). Maybe they want to go back to the values of 1300's in Europe and have people paid to collect the dead in hand pulled carts.

RONALD RIML's picture

Sorry, candiceanne...

That figure came right from the Government Inflation calculator. Computed directly from May 2002 through May 2010 - and not as you allege. Sorry.

RONALD RIML's picture

I see you didn't provide an alternate inflation figure.

Rather smoke and mirrors.

RONALD RIML's picture

Evidently your Boy Bush thought so......

Did you talk to him about it?? Economy goes to hell, and he funds two wars on a credit card from China.

You say he was an MBA? Oh, Brother!!!

 's picture

inflation

Somehow, I don't believe we've had 21.34% of real inflation in 10 yrs. And even if the the total amount of increased spending is only "half" of what Mr. Fletcher says, that is a far cry from a claim that state spending has actually decreased.

RONALD RIML's picture

Not in ten years - but eight.

Read what I wrote, and then use the Government's Consumer Price Index Inflation calculator at the site that they provide......

You don't have to believe facts. The Catholic Church ignored the fact that the Earth revolved around the Sun for many years and persecuted Galileo for teaching the same.

RONALD RIML's picture

How much of a spending increase is this????

If, as Mr. Fletcher claims, State spending increased from $5.393 billion in 2002 to 7.726 billion in 2010 - that would be quite an increase in spending - 2.333 Billion Dollars!!

But what has happened to the value of the dollar of those eight years?

Let's take a look at the 'Inflation Calculator' provided by the Government's Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Web Site - http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Calculators/Inflation_Rate_...

Let's input the starting month of May, 2002 - and an ending date of May, 2010. The calculator tells us that there was an inflation rate of 21.34%from 2002 through 2010.

Therefore - the inflated value of that original $5.393 Billion is $6.544 Billion in 2010 dollars, or $1.182 Billion actual dollars over eight years. Not nearly as great as Representative Fletcher would have us believe - about half.

We all have to deal with taxes and inflation - they are a fact of life. But don't try to scare us with an eight year history of spending increases without factoring in inflation, Mr. Fletcher. It's dishonest - and a political trick.

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