Here are my predictions for 2003:

1. Maine’s sales tax will increase to 6 percent.

2. Maine’s gas tax will increase 3 percent.

3. Called “”tax reform,”” the legislative Democrats will expand the sales tax to nearly all goods and services.

4. Lewiston’s property tax rate will rise above 30 mils.

5. Lewiston’s general assistance budget will increase.

6. The Democrats in the Legislature will reinstate Kotch stacking, pass single payer universal health and add a new 12 percent payroll tax to pay for this “free” health care.

7. Personal income tax rates will rise, particularly at the top end.

8. Many state and local government fees will rise.

9. A major paper mill will cease operations in Maine.

10. Maine’s personal income will drop below 65 percent of the average in other New England states.

11. The Legislature will permit cities and towns to introduce their own sales taxes and Lewiston will implement a 1 percent tax.

12. The number of state employees will continue to increase.

13. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud will be ranked as one of the top spenders in Washington, in the tradition of John Baldacci.

14. The average age in Maine will increase and health care costs will rise.

15. At least one Maine hospital will fail and merge with another.

16. School population in Maine will drop while education spending rises.

17. A former Lewiston mayor will seek election and be soundly defeated.

18. White supremacist groups will hold rallies and disappear from the local scene.

19. Lewiston will continue to lose large numbers of young graduates due to lack of adequate job opportunities here.

20. Lewiston will lose at least one Maine House seat due to population loss.

21. At least one major L-A manufacturing plant will close citing the high cost of doing business in Maine.

22. Lewiston’s Somali population will shrink, but those remaining will assimilate well.

23. Maine’s manufacturing recession will deepen.

24. The legislative Democrats will raise Gov. Baldacci’s salary from $70,000 to $129,000, retroactive to Jan.1, 2003.

And that is just 2003. Wait until 2004!

Bob Stone, Lewiston

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