Marilyn Burgess of Leeds recently wrote (Jan. 13) that asked if, in these difficult times, “legislators also were willing to share the misery?”
I am pleased to report when control of the Legislature changed hands in 2010, the new leadership immediately took steps to demonstrate that we are all in this together.
Mindful that we needed to lead by example, we cut the Legislature's budget by nearly $8 million for the biennium. This was the largest reduction from a previous year in the history of the Maine Legislature. We also pledged that the same budget initiatives that affect state workers will also apply to legislators.
Cuts that apply to state legislators include: a pay freeze, pension changes, health insurance cuts, suspended cost of living increases, and a 30 percent reduction in out-of-state travel.
We felt it was important to make those changes before addressing the difficult state budget, pension, health insurance, regulatory fairness, tax cuts, welfare system and good government reforms that we adopted.
We are now in the process of working with the ethics commission to address one of the other issues mentioned by Ms. Burgess — the need to close the legislative reporting loophole.
I can’t address what the U.S. Congress is doing in that area, but I am pleased to report that the Maine Legislature recognizes the need to restore public trust and to make difficult changes that will benefit all of us going forward.
We are all in this together.
Sen. Garrett P. Mason, R-Lisbon Falls