The Legislature’s primary task is to construct and pass a two-year state budget. Gov. Janet Mills is proposing to increase the current budget by 11%. The proposed budget includes spending 99.95% of all available money to avoid raising taxes this year. It sets aside only 5 cents out of every dollar taken in from taxpayers in case something unexpected happens.

I have major concerns about Gov. Mills’ budget, its long-term impact on family budgets and on local property taxes.

My chief concern is that by mandating $40,000 minimum teacher salaries (a worthy goal) without providing enough money to help local school districts to pay for it, homeowners will see higher property taxes. Local property taxes are already too high.

To fund her new spending initiatives, Mills proposes to give towns and cities less money than the 5% increase in revenue sharing that is in Maine law. She is proposing only a modest increase to 2.5% in Year 1, and 3% in Year 2. That is $160 million less over two years than towns and cities expect to receive.

Shortchanging local towns will lead to higher taxes to pay for Mills’ unsustainable spending.

I am fighting to reduce or minimize the harmful impact legislative decisions can have on taxpayers’ wallets and local town budgets. I would like to ensure that all Maine property taxpayers receive relief by increasing the homestead exemption.

Gov. Mills and Democrats should prioritize spending — just like hard-working Maine families.

Rep. Richard Picket, Dixfield

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