The Legislature, in finalizing the state budget,doesn’t appear to have taken the opportunity to get to the root of many of the state’s problems.They have supplied only Band-Aid fixes.
Education — there will be decreases in state assistance for 2011 and 2012, but there is no decrease in state mandates.Unless the state fully funds any mandate it imposes, the mandate should be withdrawn or modified to meet the level of funding provided.
Revenue sharing to municipalities will be cut by $43 million.Towns will have to trim their budgets, but this cut will most likely result in a shift from state funds to an increase in local property taxes.
MaineCare reimbursement will be cut for hospitals and pharmacies.We already see that inadequate reimbursement for dentists has limited dental care for recipients.Rather than continually cutting reimbursement to providers, some services should be limited.
A bill was introduced to provide a fairer property tax system.Instead of fixing the system, the tax committee chose not to do anything.The legislators will, instead, decrease the circuit breaker and homestead exemption programs.
Legislators still have the opportunity to begin fixing the tax system by cutting the top income tax rate and broadening the sales tax base. Will they have the courage to do so or squander this opportunity?
Unless the root problems are fixed, there will not be a stronger economy or a more efficient system.
Stan Tetenman, Poland


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