As Republican legislators prepare to vote tomorrow on whether to sustain or override Gov. Paul LePage’s budget veto, they should ask themselves two questions:

1. Should I vote to impose severe service cuts and property tax increases on the communities in my district in order to maintain the governor’s anti-tax pledge?

2. Or is it more important to shift some of the burden for solving Maine’s budget shortfall to the people who visit and vacation here?

The choice before legislators returning to Augusta tomorrow will be that stark.

The governor wants to say he never increased taxes, preferring instead to eliminate property tax breaks and shift the painful job of cutting services and raising taxes to local communities.

If they have not done so already, Republican legislators should talk to town and city managers in their area to see how much more painful local cuts will be if they fail to override the governor’s veto.

The budget approved unanimously by the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee would raise by 1 percent the tax on meals and accommodations, and raise the sales tax by one half of one percent.

That budget would only impose a 40 percent cut on state revenue sharing with local communities.

The governor would prefer to completely cut revenue sharing and certain property tax breaks, like the Homestead Exemption and the Circuit Breaker program.

Legislators might want to look at Auburn, which will be slashing services next year, even under the 40 percent cut approved by the legislative compromise budget.

The Auburn City Council voted Monday night to close a fire station for 190 days in the next year, end bi-weekly door-to-door recycling and cut appropriations for agencies ranging from L-A Arts to the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council.

And all of those cuts, and more, would come atop a property tax increase of $275 on a $150,000 home.

Under the governor’s budget, the city would be facing even more cuts and property tax increases.

The Lewiston City Council will be talking about cuts and tax increases Thursday night, the depth of which will likely depend on the decision legislators make Wednesday.

The tax increases and service cuts will be more severe if legislators fail to override the governor’s budget veto.

The same scenario will play out in communities large and small all over Maine if the governor has his way.

Which brings us to the equally distasteful possibility of a government shutdown, which would send all but “essential” state workers home if the budget dispute goes beyond June 30.

Over the course of this legislative session, the governor has wrung many more concessions from Democrats than we would have thought possible in a divided government.

But Gov. LePage remains uncomfortable with the kind of compromises that most people know are essential to holding our family, business and community lives together.

For years, Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature have demonstrated that when the time comes for putting heated rhetoric aside and making practical choices, they can and will work together.

Tomorrow, they should do that again.

People say one thing

then often do another

After years of watching people, have you noticed the following?

The person who pronounces “I have a thick skin” is invariably thin-skinned and quick to take offense.

The person who says “I don’t take things personally” usually does, and can be counted on to hold a grudge.

The person who says “I don’t take myself too seriously,” usually does just that.

The person who says, “I have broad shoulders,” will usually stew about an issue and complain for days.

The person who says “I can take criticism” often doesn’t mean it.

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The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.


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