The Muskie School of Public Service at University of Southern Maine received $32 million in public and private grants last year, has 274 faculty and staff for only 180 students.

Maine has a projected $95 million budget shortfall. House Speaker Glenn Cummings states uncertainty about where to cut. (He could look at the Muskie school.)

A Sun Journal article (Dec. 5) noted Gov. Baldacci is touting a report on boosting Maine’s economy: raise lodging taxes, buy more remote/public lands, because tourists come to Maine for open space. The report was drafted by the Muskie school.

I believe increased lodging taxes and bringing privately owned lands into state ownership, and off the tax rolls, is not the best solution for Maine’s economic/budget issues. They seem to forget almost all of these lodging businesses are owned by Maine people. They seem to presume that you and I never visit those B&B’s or campgrounds. Thus they conclude that Maine citizens are not paying the taxes.

Moreover, they conclude that millions of visitors to Freeport, Belgrade Lakes, Boothbay, Camden, Naples, etc. are not there for shops, theaters, restaurants, etc. According to the Muskie school, these tourists are simply seeking directions to the Bigelow Preserve or the Nahamakanta Unit near Millinocket.

Some do visit Maine for its wild spaces, and the purchase of some wild lands was well-founded. But most roads to the wild see sporadic traffic, while downtowns are packed with tourists seeing and experiencing what they prefer.

Please, no more taxes.

Jack W. Day, Norway

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